“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV)
There are two ways of seeking to fulfill the proscription in this verse. We can either elevate others or put ourselves below others in an effort to produce humility.
The first way is to think of others as having more value, of elevating them above us.
The image of God that Jesus presented in Luke 15, the loving father waiting for the son to return, should cause me to think of myself as valuable in God’s eyes. The fact that Jesus came to save me is another datum that indicates my value.
Therefore the second option, the devaluing of my self, is not the better choice. I should not think of myself as having less value than God thinks me to have.
I have heard humility defined as “seeing myself as God sees me.” In spite of my many flaws and failures, God thinks me valuable. So any move that I make to make me appear less valuable in an effort to appear humble would then become false humility.
We can agree that the second option is not valid, but then comes the struggle.
There are some that we do not want to elevate to greater significance. We sometimes pick certain sins as disqualification for this elevation. We too often hold on to grievances or past failures and refuse to count others as more significant. Too often the church is more focused on who is in and who is out and refuses to elevate those who are deemed as outsiders.
Jesus did not have a problem with elevating others. He was always gentle with the very people upon which the church has historically looked down. He let a prostitute kiss his feet. He dined with tax collectors. He took a bunch of fisherman and social outcasts and turned them into a world changing force.
Jesus elevated everyone around him to be better. There was no false humility in Jesus, he understood exactly who he is and what he came to do. Yet, he dignified the people around him in his interactions.
Can we stop with the false humility and follow Jesus in understanding our value and elevating the people around us to help them know their value?
What would the church look like if we did this well?