Playing Second Fiddle

Philippians 2:3–5

I REMEMBER READING OF Leonard Bernstein, the late, legendary conductor of the New York Philharmonic, giving an insightful answer in an informal interview. Following a televised performance, one admirer asked: “Mr. Bernstein, what is the most difficult instrument to play?”

With quick wit and without even a thought he replied:

“Second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm . . . now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”

Such profound wisdom in the maestro’s words!

Yet Jesus became the ultimate second fiddler in God’s symphony of grace in which humility became the main motif. That’s why Paul could write:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.


I’ve found over the years that the most important virtue to be formed in me by God’s gracious Spirit is a spirit of genuine humility. It’s the absence of self-promotion, or insisting on having my way, or that my voice be heard and revered above the voices of others. Humility keeps the gears of my marriage and the relationships with my children and those I work with well-oiled and operating smoothly.

But more importantly, when I embrace the humility of Christ, He increases and shines brightly through me.

In simplest terms, Jesus told us to serve and to give. His life builds a case for unselfish living . . . for being willing to give it all in honor of Him.

Are you ready to play second fiddle to Christ? I can already hear the music starting. It’s beautiful.

Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord . . . Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved. The full devotional can be purchased at

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Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.