Valuing of OthersPhilippians 2:3-5
“3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…”
A few weeks ago I decided to do a little experiment with my children. I carefully divided a brownie into three sections. However, instead of creating three equal sections, I created three very different sized sections. Of course, one section was far bigger than the others. After setting these pieces on a plate I called the oldest three children into the kitchen to see how they would respond to the obvious injustice in the brownie slicing department! Upon arrival the eyes of my children became fixed on the largest piece of brownie. I then asked Finn to divide the brownie slices out amongst the other siblings. Without hesitation he selected the largest slice for himself (before he even gave the small pieces to his sisters) and then divided the others. When he was finished I asked him if he would be willing to give the large piece to one of his sisters…and I will never forget his response. He said “If I give this brownie to Leah, what else do I get.” Even in an act of “kindness”, the motivation was not kindness, it was selfishness. This was, of course, a great opportunity to teach my children a valuable lesson. If you haven’t done an experiment like this with your children, it is a great teaching tool!
As we examine a story like this, it is easy to chuckle under our breath and say “kids will be kids”, or “That sounds like something Finn would do!” But I want us to take a closer look, not only at our children, but at ourselves. Are we much different? The older I get and the more I observe myself and others as we walk along in this blessed life in Christ, the more I notice that we are all a bunch of 6 year olds trapped in adult bodies! In reality this sounds like something we all would do! In the vast majority of cases we are the little boy or girl reaching for the largest piece and leaving the leftovers for others. But in light of Philippians 2:3-5, shouldn’t we operate in a different manner? How many of us can truly say that we regard others as moreimportant than ourselves. Think about that statement before you read on… You see, the call of the Christian is always a call to what we might consider extreme. Some might think that we have done a good thing if we regard others at all. If we “throw” others a “bone” from time to time then we have achieved some great thing. Likewise, some might think of others’ needs as equal to themselves and think they have fulfilled God’s call. But God says we must regard one another as more important than ourselves! Then and only then have we have reached, not the extreme of Christianity, but merely the standard of the Christian.
So do you regard others as more important than yourself? I know I don’t. I may be getting there and learning and growing towards it but at the end of the day, my needs far outweigh the needs of others. Often, if I am in the middle of working on a project or just want time to myself and I get a call for help from another, I will say “I am too busy right now”. Really many times what I am saying is “my needs are more important than yours”. What Philippians 2 tells us to do may be one of the most difficult things to master in the Christian life! We very often love our own needs…there is no way around it. We don’t only prove that we value ourselves more than others in regards to our time though. We do it with our money as well. We do it with our talents, abilities and other resources. But the biggest tragedy concerning this topic is when we refuse to share the Gospel with others. When we withhold Gospel truth from others what we are really saying is “My eternity is taken care of and I really am not all that concerned about yours…my eternity is more important than yours.”
This week is as great a time as any to truly examine the ways in which we can change our minds about how we view other people. Do we really value other people as much as we say we do? Are we anywhere close to the standard set before us in scripture to regard others as more important that ourselves? I have a long way to go brothers and sisters! Bear with me! How close are you?
Yours in Christ,