“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4,NLT).
In this text, the Apostle Paul is dealing with a problem that if it isn’t resolved will allow the destructive forces seeking to hinder the progress of the gospel to succeed. Unfortunately, there isn’t unity over what needs to be done in order to reduce the progress of these destructive forces.
In the midst of all of this, Paul presents a proposal to address the issue at hand. He encourages the Philippian Christians to join him in combating these destructive forces by saying, “Don’t look out only for your own interest, but to take an interest in others, too.”
This reminds me of the conflicts we’re currently experiencing related to a best practice for reducing the spread of Covid-19 infections. While in recent times we’ve received mixed messages from the political community, the medical and scientific communities have been consistent in saying that in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19 infections, wear a cloth mask. Now this doesn’t mean that wearing a mask in public is going to guarantee you won’t become infected; it simply reduces your chances of either spreading the coronavirus or contracting the coronavirus. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
So, here’s the question. Is not wearing a mask out in public being selfish?
On the one hand, it’s not being selfish if you’ve to go out into public and you meet one of the conditions provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, “Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
Beyond that, every state has its own guidelines regarding the wearing of face coverings. For example, the Department of Public Health in California gives mask exemptions to “persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.” Unlike the California Department of Public Health, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control doesn’t give mask exemptions beyond what the CDC has stated.
In fact, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced yesterday 1,573 new confirmed cases Covid-19 and 52 additional confirmed deaths. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 83,720 and confirmed deaths to 1,505.
Therefore, unless you have a legitimate health reason for not wearing a mask, then it’s best to wear a mask when you go out into public settings. Here’s why. You’re going to come into contact with people who you don’t know how well they are.
On the other hand, in my opinion, it’s selfish not to wear a mask when you don’t have a legitimate health reason for not doing so. There are people who are simply refusing to wear a mask. They have no legitimate health reason for not wearing a mask in public settings.
Unfortunately, masks have become a flashpoint, today. For example, I heard a man on the news the other day say, “I’m not going to wear a mask just to make someone else comfortable.” Again, for example, when a lady was asked publicly why she wasn’t wearing a mask, she replied, “I don’t want to wear a mask and nobody can make me.” In fact, she started blowing her breathe in the direction of those questioning her.
Still others are having coronavirus parties and some public businesses are refusing to practice social distancing. In the picture above, two men who aren’t wearing masks are blowing their breathe on a man who is wearing a mask. Masks have become such a flashpoint, today, until people have been shot and killed following conflicts over wearing masks in public places.
Now one of the solutions to all of this is what the Apostle Paul proposed. Paul claimed that if the Philippians wanted to participate successfully with him in the struggle against the destructive forces seeking to kill the progress of the gospel, then they must not look out only for their own interests, but to be concern for the needs and interests of others.
Likewise, the Covid-19 virus will continue to spread and kill people here in the United States until we have enough folk, who don’t have health reasons for not wearing a mask, are willing to stop looking out for their own interest and be concerned enough for the needs and interests of others to wear a mask whenever they go out into public places.
To this end, our Western Cluster of Churches have started the Wearing Is Caring Project. The Wearing Is Caring Project provides 2-layer polyester fabric, black or white masks imprinted with the PCUSA logo and the Christian message “Love One Another as I have loved you.” The proceeds from the sale of the masks will be used to purchase much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help protect the high-risk seniors and the staff members of the Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina. Sessions may order masks to be distributed to members of their congregations by contacting Rev. Brad Christie at 864-229-5814.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help us to guard against any selfishness that might lead to dissension; and empower us to show genuine concern for the needs and interests of others during this Covid-19 pandemic. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Trinity Presbytery Western Cluster PCUSA Mask Project
Rev. Dr. Danny Murphy, SR.
The ultimate aim is to equip and empower our member congregations to become communities of faith, hope, love, witness and service, so that those who do not know Jesus might come to know, love and serve him and so that those who do know Jesus might come to love him more intimately and serve him more faithfully.