Reading Philippians this morning, this verse struck me…again
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Notice that this command speaks to something deeper than simply how we treat people. It doesn’t say, “In humility, treat others…”. It says, “…consider others…”. Treating people as significant, as better than ourselves, is far easier than actually considering them truly so. The ESV wording of the verse says, “…in humility, count others as more significant than yourselves.” It is relatively easy to treat people as though they were significant. However, to actually consider others as being significant – more so, to count others to be of greater significance than yourself – well, that is another thing entirely.
And yet, therein lies one of the abiding glories of the Christian life. The verses immediately following this one begin exalting Jesus for doing precisely what is commanded here. The Lord of glory, in the greatest show of humility the far-reaching universe has ever seen, counted others as more significant than himself.
Being in very nature God, Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…
We often find it difficult to count others as more significant or better than ourselves because we somehow believe that doing so will be degrading to our own value. It would be low self-esteem to count someone else as more significant than yourself, right?
Dear friend, consider Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If there was every anyone who could legitimately claim that NO ONE was more significant than himself, it was Jesus. If there was anyone who could ever appropriately and truthfully say that he was better than everyone, it was him. He is, in fact, more significant and better than everything and everyone else.
And yet, Paul tells us to count others as more significant than ourselves because that’s what Jesus did. The one who is everything “made himself nothing”. The Cosmic King took on “the very nature of a servant”. What earth-shaking humility and love! I’m surprised to find that the very ground beneath my chair doesn’t crumble with that truth; that the heavens were not dismantled and thrown down into the abyss when they saw the Eternal One making himself nothing.
And this, my friend, is the measure of humility and servanthood which Christ calls us to: complete abandonment of self-righteousness and the idea that we are better than others. This is the image into which the followers of Christ are being conformed. This is our calling and command, which the Spirit will accomplish in us.
So, brothers and sisters of a mutual Lord, those purchased by the blood of Christ shed on the cross, those for whom the Lord of Glory took on the nature of a servant, heed and cherish what He has done, and “in humility, count others as more significant than yourselves.”