If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:1-11
One of my best friends is a Canadian couple, Frank and Carol. We have known each other for over twenty years, and we are that close.
Sometime last year the two came visiting in Tanzania, and for the duration of their visit I stayed with them in a rented house within the city. During the course of their stay, Carol always insisted on us having at least one meal every day at a particular hotel in town. This is a 5-star facility, the best of the best, in fact; and it is a place where I would never have dreamed of ever setting foot. But I soon became such a constant figure there that I even got to know the owner and his wife! Coincidentally, both couples knew each other well since the latter happened to have lived in Canada for a long time before moving to Tanzania to start their hotel business.
Carol is the ultimate connoisseur and I was soon introduced to every kind of exotic dish that you could find on the menu. It was a most fulfilling time for me, culinary-wise, and the agreeable company of Carol and Frank made it all the more worthwhile.
The hotel was frequented by more expatriates than locals. I came to learn that some were full-time tenants of the hotel. I was awed by the amounts of money involved here…
One day after we got back from the hotel, Frank told me, “Did you see that mzungu (white man) who was talking to me?”
“Yeah”, I said. He was one of the hotel’s ‘permanent’ residents.
“Well, he was asking me about you”, Frank pressed on.
“What about?” I asked.
“He has been observing us constantly moving about with you, and he wanted to know whether we also stay with you in the same house.”
Frank paused before he continued, “He told me it is not good to stay with you. In fact, he advised me to stop staying with you in my house. He said it is not good for me to stay with an African in the same house.”
We all kept silent for some time as the enormity of the thought pummeled through our respective subconsciousnesses. Frank and Carol were more shocked than I, but the fact that there was a pair of eyes and such a mind observing my every move in that hotel also unnerved me. The thought had never entered my mind that there were people who were too different for me to live with!
I recently recalled this experience as I was reading the above scripture in Philippians. I thought about that man who imagined that he was more superior than I. Judging from the scripture, I came to the conclusion that this was someone who was living for himself and for his own gratification.
I then thought about Christ, the Son of God. Jesus lived for the glory, or gratification of God. He was therefore willing to humble Himself so He could do the will of the Father. When Christ humbled Himself, He was able to do the will of His Father, and God exalted Him. That is the natural order of things with God. We cannot do the will of God if there is no humility in our hearts.
And what, pray, was the will of the Father for which Christ was willing to humble Himself to fulfill? It was the salvation of mankind.
For we who are believers, we are called to a very high degree of humility. We should never, ever think of ourselves as more important than others. I know there are many factors that are involved here and sometimes people simply don’t appear to deserve to be better than us. But that is simply deception. Every other person is better than us if we are in Christ. We are nothing. Christ “made himself of no reputation”, and He is our example.
When we humble ourselves, we become of value to God’s will; we become valuable to people – and God’s reward is that He will exalt us.
Are we seeking to live for the glory of God, or for our own glory? If we are living for the glory of God, then let us strive to follow the pattern set by Christ.
“…in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”