Pride is perhaps the most common value in America today. We are taught and encouraged to “look out for number one”, “love yourself”, and “build your self esteem.” We hear this everywhere from social media to advertising to the public school system. To the ears of this world, this seems like good advice.
However, the Bible assumes that we are already pride filled. (2 Timothy 3:2, Philippians 2:21) Loving ourselves more than God and other people seems to come naturally. The last thing we need in our lives is more pride.
Instead, God instructs us, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:4 ESV)
When was the last time you saw “count others more significant than yourselves” in a newspaper’s advice column? I personally have no recollection of seeing that line outside of the Bible. And why should we value other people above ourselves?
Because, that is what Jesus did. In humility, He left His throne in Heaven to become poor among us and die in our place on the cross. The infinitely powerful God condescended Himself by choosing to love us despite our sins and flaws and mistakes. We should do the same for others. Not only did Jesus model it for us, but He expects it from us as His children (Matthew 22:38).
It isn’t always easy to count other people as more significant than ourself. I remember when I was a waiter, I often had rude, critical, bossy, and, well, plain evil customers. You know, the type that wouldn’t leave a tip even if they had just won the lottery. It was tough serving food to that “kind” of people.
And yet I could, because I remembered that my Father in Heaven loves me at my worst. He loves me whether I give 100% of all I am or whether I do not leave even a tip. He loves me even when I act like His friend or when I act like an enemy. How could I not return the favor to both my friends and my enemies?
May we all learn to value other people and love them above ourselves, especially and most importantly God. With the Spirit’s help, we can!
Tom Dale is currently studying for full time ministry and resides in Aurora Illinois. He has spent the past few years working at Great Oaks, a Christian Camp near my home town.