There's a Peanuts cartoon where Linus says, "I love mankind…. It's people I can't stand!" Do you ever feel like that? Many of our problems and frustrations in life come from our interaction with people.
Having said that, we must also realize we're part of the problem. The church is not made up of perfect people, but redeemed people. So how do we get along with one another? In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul gave us the basic dos and don'ts of great relationships:
1. Don't be selfish. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition" (v. 3), or selfishness. Selfishness is the me-first philosophy that's at the heart of our fallen human nature, and it's the root of every other sin. Yet Paul said don't be selfish.
2. Don't be prideful. "Let nothing be done through…conceit" (v. 3). The original Greek word for conceit comes from two words that together mean empty glory. This describes a person who has exaggerated ideas of their own importance (see also Romans 12:3).
Interestingly, these two don'ts—selfish ambition and conceit—are what got Satan kicked out of heaven (see Isaiah 14:13-14). You are never more like the Devil than when you display these characteristics. They will ruin relationships.
3. Do be humble. Have "lowliness of mind" (v. 3)—humility. Humility isn't thinking poorly about yourself; it's simply not thinking about yourself. The Bible tells us that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Humility is the grace that becomes the grease so the gears of relationship can turn smoothly.
4. Do be respectful. "Let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (vv. 3-4). Putting other people first is so against human nature. But if you're cognizant of your own shortcomings and sins, like Paul was (see 1 Corinthians 15:9), you're going to approach others differently—esteeming them better than yourself.
You are never more like Jesus than when you practice these two dos. They will remedy relationships. And the motivation behind them? "If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love" (v. 1), do these things. In other words, if Jesus loving you has made any difference in your life, it ought to show up in the way you treat other people, especially believers.
The quickest road to misery is the Freeway of Self. If you get on that freeway, you'll discover it's packed. It's bumper to bumper. People will be nasty and give you gestures and cuss you out. If you get on Humility Boulevard, it's pretty lonely out there—but it's the quickest road to joy.