Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get along with everybody? Imagine how much better life would be if you could experience harmonious and peaceful relationships with everyone. Yes, even those cantankerous individuals who get their kicks out of making you miserable.
Now that’s a utopia that won’t be enjoyed until we get to heaven. Down here on earth, we must continue to coexist with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When we study the Bible, we think a lot about growing our relationship with God. But I wonder if we have a tendency to overlook scriptural teaching on our relationships with one another.
In fact, there are teachings on our relationships with others that are controversial, even rejected. For example, the instruction on wives submitting to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24) But when balancing that mandate with the whole of scripture, it shouldn’t be hard for anyone to accept. The role of the husband is to love his wife sacrificially as Christ loves the church. (Eph 5:25) Later in verse 33, Paul amplifies his meaning. “… each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” So the marital relationship is to be one of sacrificial love and respect. It’s a 2-way street in which both partners have a God-given role and responsibility. Harmony prevails when we follow the divine design for relationships.
Our focus text in Philippians holds the key for healthy relationships. “… in humility value others above yourselves…” The word I want you to focus on here is VALUE.
One of my neighbors has a car and a truck. Without fail he washes and polishes both vehicles once per week. Why? Value.
We give those things we prize our best. Paul teaches that we are to value others above ourselves because when we hold them in high esteem we treat them better.
By the way, he didn’t say to just hold the ones who treat us well in high esteem. He just says to value others more than ourselves. That’s right up there with turning the other cheek. Not easy. But it is worthwhile.
He also tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Me first won’t cut it. And don’t think of yourself more highly than another.
Who are the people in your inner circle who cause you the most grief? Surely a name or two come to mind. Put aside your biases, hurts, and opinions of that person and think of how you can look at him or her in a favored light. Your goal is to value them more highly than yourself.
Why would God want us to do that? Because it’s precisely what Jesus did for you and me. “… he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:7)
We say we want to be more like Christ. He’s our supreme role model. If that is truly what we want then we must also take to heart the Bible’s teachings on interacting with others. And that includes: “… in humility value others above yourselves…”
The key to better relationships is placing value on others, even when it’s undeserved. And as with any spiritual maturity challenge, bathe it in prayer. Trust God to help you effect change that will make a difference in your life and the lives of others — to His glory.
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