What does it mean to value others before myself?

I choose to esteem others above myself.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

Today marks the end of a 30 week journey of Basic Christian Thought.  We have look at the Christian Faith through three different lens: Think, what  do I believe; 2) Act, What should I do; and 3) Be, who am I becoming.

Each of these sections have give us opportunity to not just hear the stories of the Bible, but to put some of the pieces together and understand the foundations of a Christian worldview.

I think given our Christian worldview, it is appropriate that we started this section with Love and that we conclude it with Humility.  These would be — in my mind — two defining attributes of Jesus Christ as his life is presented in our Gospels. In fact, as we prepare ourselves for the season of Advent we remember the greatest act of humility in human history — when the eternal Word of God… “became flesh and dwelled among us.”  

The first church highlighted the humility of this action and Paul quotes from what many think is a Christian hymn when he writes to the Philippians:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NIV)

And for us, we are looking today at that passage and more specifically the two verses that precede it:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

Humility is not something that comes easy for us…it seems that there are always lessons to learn

Illustration: Chan Gailey, a football coach told how he learned a lesson in humility.

Gailey was then head coach of Alabama’s Troy State, and they were playing for a National Championship. The week before the big game, he was headed to the practice field when a secretary called him back to take a phone call.

Somewhat irritated, Gailey told her to take a message because he was on his way to practice.

She responded, “But it’s Sports Illustrated.”

“I’ll be right there,” he said.

As he made his way to the building, he began to think about the upcoming article. It would be great publicity for a small school like Troy State to be in Sports Illustrated. As he got closer, he realized that a three-page article would not be sufficient to tell the whole story.

Coming even closer to his office, he started thinking that he might be on the cover. “Should I pose or go with an action shot,” he wondered. His head was spinning with all of the possibilities.

When he picked up the phone and said hello, the person asked, “Is this Chan Gailey?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied confidently.

“This is Sports Illustrated, and we’re calling to let you know that your subscription is running out. Are you interested in renewing?”

Coach Gailey concluded the story by saying, “You are either humble or you will be humbled.”

Alan Price, Chatsworth, Georgia; source: Chan Gailey speaking at a dinner in Dalton, Georgia (4-20-04)

Learning humility requires changing our perspective about God, others and myself.

First let’s consider Humility before God:

Every time we come and worship we are reminded that there is a God and we are not Him. Our first step toward genuine humility begins with how we see God!

God is the creator – we are the creatures.  Do we get a sense of the distance between us? I can make cakes, God can make galaxies

Here is how the Bible speaks of God. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command… (Hebrews 11:3a, NIV)

Do we grasp what that means? Here is an illustration of God’s greatness that keeps us in a position of humility.

Keller shares that when he was young man At a Christian camp in Colorado, a woman Bible teacher gave an illustration that changed my life.  She said, “If the distance between the Earth and the Sun, 150 million kilometres, was reduced to the thickness of a sheet of paper, then the distance between the Earth and the nearest star would be a stack of paper 21 metres (70 feet high).  And the diameter of our galaxy would be a stack of paper nearly 500 km high.  That’s how big the galaxy is.  And yet, the galaxy is nothing but a speck of dust, virtually, in the whole universe.  

And the Bible says Jesus Christ holds this universe together with the word of his power.  His pinky, as it were.”  And then she asked the question: “Is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your assistant?”

Part of our worship is too utter praise to God Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 1 Chronicles 29:11

God’s greatness is immense and incredible….
Man is not the measure of all things – but as the Psalmist says –
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
4 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:3-4

I can cakes but God can make galaxies. Do we have an abiding sense of God’s greatness?

Secondly learning the way of humility means I consider

Humility toward Others:

A litmus test for our ability to be humble toward others is that we

Cut the criticism and celebrate others.

Criticism’s dark side is a form of pride…As CS Lewis says, pride is the pleasure of having more than the next person. Pride is the pleasure of being more than the next person. If I can’t have more than you I will diminish and criticize what you have so I can scramble up once again on mount ego!

Criticism is often fueled by competition

We authentically “…value others above yourselves… (Phil 2:3-4, NIV). It is more than a technique, flattery or a coping skill with people but we genuinely celebrate the good in others and give thanks to God for what He is doing.

Why do we value them? Because God in Christ values them. He was willing to give his life for all of us. That means we are valued by God.

I love how C.S.Lewis says it in his book The Weight of Glory

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Valuing them is expressed when we celebrate in a spontaneous and gracious way. Talk to parents – usually this comes quite naturally to celebrate their children – but the call is to value all others.

Celebrate others by honoring them, learning from them and serving them.

Celebrating others is rooted in the grace we have in Christ.Here is a good observation, “…in Jesus we are shielded and protected from the worst things about ourselves. Because Jesus shields us like this, we should of all people be zealous to restore reputations versus destroying reputations, to protect a good name versus calling someone a name, to shut down gossip versus feeding gossip, to restore broken relationships versus begrudging broken people.” (source: Scott Sauls, Befriend (Tyndale, 2016), page 48)

Humility within Me:
A preoccupation with ourselves is not what Christ desires in our lives! But selfish ambition and vain conceit

While it is true that the man of humility is not inclined to think highly of himself, this is not because he consciously endeavors to despise himself, but because in his service and his devotion he forgets self.

Ortberg book…

The wide path of unhealthy navel-gazing and the narrow path of healthy self-forgetfulness  

“in the last days… people will be lovers of themselves…” (2Timothy 3:1)

In “The Era of the Narcissist,” Aaron Kheriaty points out the self-absorption of our era:

Of all the amazing features of the medieval cathedrals, one feature stands out as very strange to the modern mind: We have no idea who designed and built them. The architects and builders did not bother to sign their names on the cornerstones. People today might ask, Why build the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres if you can’t take credit for it? No lasting fame? No immortalized human glory? We’re perplexed by the humility of these forgotten artists who labored in obscurity. Do and disappear? This is not how we roll in the America of the twenty-first century.

All this humility and anonymity began to change during the Enlightenment. For example, when Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s wrote his book Confessions in 1789 he dedicated it “to me, with the admiration I owe myself.” The book opens with these lines: “I have entered upon a performance which is without example, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man shall be myself.” In contrast, the 4th century Christian thinker Augustine’s Confessions(Rousseau ripped off Augustine’s title) gives all glory to God, as in his opening line from the Book of Psalms: “Great thou art, and greatly to be praised.” As much as we might admire Augustine’s humility, Rousseau’s language sounds more familiar. “To me, with the admiration I owe myself” is a dedication that would look right at home today on social media.
Adapted from Aaron Kheriaty, “The Era of the Narcissist,” First Things (2-16-10)

The deeper we move into loving God and loving others we become forgetful about ourselves!

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less” – C.S. Lewis


Litany of Humility


Lord Jesus. Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.