Living for others

Reading: Philippians 2

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The only thing that bothers me or would bother me is the thought that you are being tormented by anxiety about me, and are not sleeping or eat­ing properly. Forgive me for causing you so much worry.

Prison letter to his parents 14 April 1943

Thought

Only in the complete dedication of one’s own life to other people is there vicarious* living and responsibility. Only a selfless person lives responsibly, and that means that only the selfless person lives. Where the divine yes and no become one in a person, life is lived responsibly. … A misuse of the vicarious life threatens from two sides: through making one’s own self absolute and through making other people absolute. … In both cases the origin, essence, and aim of the respon­sible life in Jesus Christ is denied, and responsi­bility becomes a self-made abstract idol.

* vicarious: taking the place of another person; acting or serving as a substitute.