3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Humanity is not accustom to self-humiliation. Our natures are prone towards self and self-exaltation. However, this is not the way that Christians are to behave. Christians have been given a new heart that is being conformed to Christ’s likeness (c.f. Col. 3:10). As a result, believers are to live differently from the world. There is no desire to exalt self and revel in pride when Christians concede that they were sinners and enemies of God and that God rescued them from their sins, making them saints. Consistent with a unified mission, Paul calls for believers to “count others more significant” (2:3).
Considering others a better than yourself is modeled by our Lord when He kneels down to wash the feet of his disciples in John 13 to wash their feet. Surely if our Lord can stoop to the ground and wash the feet of those who will soon betray him, we can do so as well. The humility modeled by our Lord is astounding. He comes as helpless baby, lives as a poor wanderer, and dies an innocent convict at the hands of religious fundamentalists and inept politicians. All the while, He holds the very cellular structure of humanity together (Col. 1:17). Ponder for a moment: the gravity of such a truth. God of gods has come down in victory by surrendering His might and power in favor of weakness and death. This truth certainly removes any arrogance that would permit us to act in “selfish ambition or conceit” (v.2). Believers count others more important than themselves because Christ has done the same for them.
Considering others as more significant places a value on other people. In order to see others this way, it must be accepted that they have value. Other people are given priority over personal wants and desires because they are believed to have value. What is so remarkable is that there is no merit on behalf of Christians that commends them to God’s care. There are no wages granted to Christians because of some action they have committed. A church filled with believers ought to be a place where every person feels valued because every member views them as valuable. The heart of a Christian recognizes people through the eyes of God. Eyes that see value in dirt. Eyes that could imagine what could be in the creation of the world. Eyes that see everything about you and still wants you. These are the eyes with which the church sees others.
Considering other to have value is not merely a passive activity but is proactive. It seeks the wellbeing of others above self. Paul urges Christians to “look.” We are to make it our goal to see others first and actively look for ways to place their interests above our own.[i] Christians do not merely recognize successes of those who surround them, but they seek out opportunities to protect and serve those who are in their proximity. The most valued position in the community ought to be next to the believer. The believer, actively seeking the interest and well-being of those around them, is improving the world in which they live.
When God placed Adam in the garden, He gave Adam the task of tending the garden. It was Adam’s job to care for creation around him. In the same way, it is the Christians job to be agents of grace and mercy to the world around them. Christians are to take care of mankind and to improve the surroundings they live in. Living as a Christian ought to produce more beauty in this world and make the community in which Christians congregate extreme examples of love and mercy.
The church I pastor strives to embody the ideas expressed above. If you do not have a community like this, we are working hard to build one where I live. Come join us at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Brazoria at 10:30 Sunday mornings. We meet in the Brazoria Civic Center Conference room (the old elementary school.) There is a map on the important documents tab at the top of this page and you can find out more here: sgfbrazoria.org. We all have struggles, let’s walk through them together.
[i] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.