Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.
Recently, I posted a “What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean” post, a post that speaks of the humility of the Holy Spirit. During the writing of that post, I got to thinking about an old teaching that was associated with an earlier post in the series, a post that speaks of loving our enemies.
To top off this emphasis of a particular truth I have been thinking on, a certain Bible passage has “inadvertently” been grabbing my attention. Let’s consider a number of translations for this passage
[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Phl 2:3 KJV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Phl 2:3 ESV
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, – Phl 2:3 NIV
The key phrase that stuck in my “craw” was “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”, and this phrase, along with the previously mentioned influences, reminds me of the importance of others in relation to me, myself and I.
How do you relate to you?
- Do you think highly of you? Are you smarter, stronger, wiser, prettier…. than everyone else?
- Do you treat yourself better than the non-you out there?
- Do you seek to love you in order to love others?
- This is actually encouraged in some Christian circles under the guise of the self esteem teaching. Self love is the very antipathy of Christian discipleship, and is a struggle to be fought, not a goal to be pursued.
The number of verses that speak to how we relate to ourselves, to other believers and those outside the Body are scattered throughout the New Testament, dang the Bible is chock full of ’em. Humility and a preference for others is a hallmark life characteristic of the Master. He gave up comfort for others, sleep, dinners, convenience, – He gave up His life in order for others to have life! His actions show His attitude towards His own self.
As a matter of fact, Matthew provides the only self description Jesus gave of Himself that I can find in the Word.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Mat 11:29 ESV
He does not describe Himself as omnipotent, all wise, God in the flesh, holy, eternal or any of the terms we might ascribe to the One who walked among us. No – He says He is gentle. He says He is lowly in heart. He opens up and describes His inner person to us.
Lets take a moment to consider both of these terms.
As many may know by now, my first research tool is Blue Letter Bible for searching, word studies, definitions and additional information. In researching “gentleness” I tripped over the following paragraph from “The Outline of Biblical Usage, by Larry Pierce”. (Meekness and gentleness are the same Greek word in this description.)
Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isa 41:17, Luk 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23). (emphasis mine)
Nuff said. Mr. Pierce stated the point that needed to be said!
Lowly in Heart
Lowly in the greek is the word ταπεινός (tapeinos), and has the complex meaning of – wait for it – lowly. Or of low degree, cast down, of low estate.
The word itself doesn’t seem complicated, but it is hard to accept for us who seek to find significance in our world, to find our place in our world in relation to others. Where do we fit in and where is our “position” amongst others. How “high” do you consider yourself in relation to your peers?
My friends, consider yourself and how you relate to others. When someone is talking, do you interrupt and tell YOUR story? Do you ignore offering the last piece of pie to others prior to consuming it for YOURSELF? Do you grumble inside because Aunt Bertha came over during the time YOU wanted to watch the football game?
Many moon ago, the prophet Jeremiah had an assistant, by the name of Baruch. This fellow was known by all to be sympathetic to the “traitor” Jeremiah, and had delivered Jeremiah’s message of King Jehoiakim’s dethronement and death twice to the King! He was the prophet’s assistant and had placed himself in great danger. But at one point, Baruch had fallen into a “Woe”
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: You said, ‘Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ – Jer 45:2-3 ESV
If only Baruch knew he needed to love himself more, to esteem his own self greater than others in order to find self fulfillment and satisfaction.
Or could that be the problem? Is Baruch thinking of himself only, or at the least that his own self is the highest focus of his thoughts?
I think maybe so, since the Lord Himself comes back to Baruch with the following injunction.
Jeremiah 45:5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…
My friends – self love is a trap that constantly needs more and more attention – it can never be satisfied! I can’t help but think of Proverbs 27:20 when I consider loving me.
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. – Pro 27:20 ESV
Feeding an animal that is never satisfied is a loosing battle. Give up now, and consider others for the Lord Jesus sake. Do not seek great things for yourself, but walk humbly with God.
Love Him and not yourself
One final verse for my gentle readers to consider.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. – Rom 12:16 ESV
How utterly backwards to the message we hear from our culture!!!
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.