Bill Crowder tells a story about two salesman who were returning from a business trip. As they traveled they discussed the contacts they made and evaluated the success of the trip.
One man said he thought the trip had been worthwhile because they had developed some meaningful relationships.
“Relationships are fine,” replied the other salesman, “But selling is what matters most.”
The two men obviously had different points of view toward others as well as different priorities in relationships.
Crowder then makes this observation. “It is all too easy—whether in business, family, or church—to view others from the perspective of how they can benefit us. We value them for what we can get from them, rather than focusing on how we can serve them in Jesus’ name.”
This posture of a proper attitude toward others is reflected in one of the great passages from Philippians.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Phil 2:3).
Yesterday at the Southside Lectures, Phil Robertson referenced this passage and made this observation. “Before I can value anyone else I must devalue myself. Before I can appreciate others, I must depreciate myself.”
The ESV renders this passage, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
A life of spiritual significance sees the value in others. It is an attitude born from the spirit of humility. Meekness. And unselfishness.
Too often we find ourselves in a competitive situation with others trying to prove we’re better. More important. Of greater worth. Sadly some husbands and wives are constantly fighting to get the upper hand and gain control. Seeing only their needs and forgetting about the needs of their spouse.
Some churches are filled with brethren constantly bickering, because they haven’t learned how to get along by appreciating the value their brother adds to the Body of Christ. No fellowship can accurately reflect the attitude of Christ when each member seeks to promote himself or herself.
In the text Paul tells how to develop the quality of honoring others and esteeming them higher than themselves. It’s simple. “Have the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5). Yet, it’s difficult because we fail to see our personal need to be more Christ-like.
It reminds me of the story of the mother who was making pancakes for her 2 little boys–-Kevin , age 5, and Ryan, age 3. As the boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake, she saw an opportunity to teach a spiritual lesson.
“If Jesus were sitting here, she said, “He would say, “‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.”
Kevin then turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan. You be Jesus.”
Aren’t we all just a little bit like Kevin? We want others to be like Jesus without considering the fact that we are the ones who need to model the character of Christ.
We need to be humble. Self-effacing. Self-sacrificing. And self-denying. The problem is that it goes against our carnal nature to put others first. See them as significant. And value them over ourselves. So, it requires putting self to death. Of being crucified with Christ. And allowing His mind to rule and regulate our thinking.
What matters most to you?
Receiving honor or bestowing honor? Accepting compliments or giving compliments? Self-aggrandizement or self-denial?
When you decide to have the mind of Christ, the answer will be easy.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman