Better than others?
Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
The word for “selfishness” was eritheian which appeared in chapter 1:17 to describe those who opposed Paul. Without question such behavior is of the flesh and not of the Spirit (Galations 5:20). Along with “empty conceit”, the two negatives are followed by a postive exhortation: “regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God. Paul is thus exhorting the Philippians to consider others before themselves.
Paul explained how humility can be expressed (philippians 2:4). Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others in the household of faith (cf. Romans 12:10). Preoccupation with oneself is sin.
Now I find myself being guilty of thinking myself better than others, particularly non believers when they are steeped in sin….I find thoughts like, “At least i’m not doing THAT!” or thinking that just because I’m a child of God that that makes me so much better than those who’re not. And I know i’m not the only one who struggles with thoughts of thinking us better than others BECAUSE we’re not steeped in sin and BECAUSE we have the victory over that. But in your rejoicing over your victory and freedom from sin’s bondage, be careful not to start thinking yourself BETTER than those who ARE still bound. Paul’s telling us that we are NOT to think ourselves BETTER than others no matter how steeped in sin or evil that other person is…we must remember that God once viewed us as just as evil and sinful before we were redeemed (even IF we never did anything as “bad” as that other person). In our victory in Christ, let us not become arrogant and snub our noses and look down on those who do not have that same victory, or maybe other brothers and sisters, even, who may not have the same gifts we do or maybe their gifts are seen as not being as “powerful” as our gifts are. Remember that the world’s view of greatness is not God’s. Those who labor in prayer in their bedrooms for ministry leaders, those unknown “unnamed” prayer warriors, those whose names the world does not know, they just may possibly be the ones who are seen as greater in the eyes of God than even well known evangelists, or those famous propheciers, or “miracle workers” who the world sees as “great men of God.” Remember that in God’s eyes, the greatest gifts of all aren’t the “sign” gifts (the tongues, the healings, the prophecy, even being raised from the dead…all those gifts that baffle and awe those here on earth)…no….to God the greatest of ALL gifts is love and He urges us to pursue that above all other gifts.
If we cannot practice humble attitudes with each other, then how can we be humble before God? If we cannot live in humility with each other, if we insist on thinking ourselves greater than others for whatever reason, and voicing an arrogance and pride, then we are in direct disobedience to God and His commands.
Now Christ offers such a wonderful example of humility and it’s illustrated beautifully in
Philippians 2:5-8 our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to deathÃ¢â‚¬â€
even death on a cross!
In verse 5, believers are exhorted to have the same attitude–selfless humility–Christ exhibited in His humiliation and condescension. In verses 6 and 7 Paul is saying that Christ Jesus is of the very essence of God, and in His incarnation he embraced perfect humanity. His complete and absolute deity is carefully stressed by Paul here. The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33).
Though POSSESSING full deity (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God as something to be held onto. Christ did not hesitate to set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man. As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnation state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory.
Christ’s humiliation included His making Himself nothing, taking the very nature (form) of a servant, and being made in human likeness. These statements indicate that Christ became a man, a true human being. The Greek says that He “emptied Himself” which denotes a divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity. The word “likeness” suggests similarity but difference. Though His humiliation was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15).
Thus it is seen that Christ, while retaining the essence of God, was also human. In His incarnation He was FULLY God and FULLY man at the same time. He was God manifest in human flesh (John 1:14).
Some have wrongly taught that the phrase “being found in appearance as a man” means that He only LOOKED human. But this contradicts verse 7 which says that He literally by very NATURE was human also.
The condescension of Christ included not only His birth, but also His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death which was limited to non Romans and the worst criminals.
No better example of humiliation and a selfless attitude for believers to follow could possibly be given than that of Christ. With this example before them, the saints at Philippi would be “like-minded” (as was used in Philippians 2:2) and live humbly before their God and each other.
So, since Christ who, if ANYONE has full right to Lord it over anybody else, truly DID have the right to be and act as if He was better than ALL…since He having this right did not take advantage of that right while He was here on earth…then what makes us any different? We are to follow Christ’s example in all things…even in His humility and His servant hood. He had full rights to glorify Himself and act better than all other humans, but instead He humbled Himself and became a servant, not lording His rights to deity over anyone. Now although we are not divine, we as children of God should never in thought or action consider ourselves to be better than others, if those others so prove to act and think in an ungodly manner. It’s a hard thing to do, to consider others as better than us no matter HOW they act…but it is something that God expects of us and it is something that Christ Himself did….so we must strive to be living examples of His humility.