So if there is any encouragement in Christ,
any incentive of love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any affection and sympathy,
[then] complete my joy by being of the same mind,
having the same love,
being in full accord and
of one mind.
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit,
but in humility
count others better than yourselves.
God has been challenging me lately.
I have always responded to the final command of this text by asking myself, “But what if they really aren’t better than me? What then? Do I still have to count them as being better than me? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?” – and then rapidly moving on to think of something else!
But in our church service on Tuesday (I’m at seminary; we have a lot of church! 🙂 ) the thought came back to me: consider others as being better than yourself.
When I came back to the Biblical text, I saw Jesus the Son of Man doing just that. He was and is Lord of all – yet He placed Himself at the service of everyone and anyone, “nobodies” included. (There are, truly, no “nobodies” – but there are people who have suffered under such oppression that they have begun to believe this about themselves.)
So it is not so strange that He actually expects His disciples to do the same.
And, you know what? I have known (a very few) Christians who actually do this, who have grown into having this attitude as natural to them. Such people appear to have an innate respect for others, an openness and concern and approachability which I wish that I had.
So I have accepted this challenge:
On meeting each and every person through my day,
as the very first action within myself at that meeting,
to consciously place each person I meet in such respect as recognises:
that God made this person just as he wanted them to be;
that He made that person in His image;
that He gave them the gifts He planned for them to have;
that Jesus died on the Cross just for them, as for me, because
God loves and values that person at least as much as He loves and values me:
Jesus is not only my Redeemer. He is our Redeemer.
For each and every person I encounter, of whatever position in life,
the first action within myself must be:
to place that person above myself, in this position of respect.
You know what?
We live too fast!
So I have had to slow down a bit. I have also had to repent several times a day, when I forget to do this, which is more often than not.
But I am not giving up so easily; I will persevere.
Not because I am so capable, but because I believe in the grace of the Lord Jesus, the Christ, which is sufficient for my weakness.
Just let me share with you, I have already seen it making a difference.
I have seen it making a difference in the way I treat people, the way I speak to people, the way I respond to people.
And I have seen it making a difference in the way people respond to me.
That is – when I do remember to “count others better than myself”!
So – I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meanwhile, I would appreciate your support in prayer.