Better Than Themselves

It took me a long time to figure out what was the key to practical Christianity. By “practical Christi-anity,” I mean living day by day in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. The key is found in Philippi-ans 2. The first four verses of that chapter tell us, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and com-passion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the inter-ests of others.” 

The key to truly living day by day as a child of God is to “regard one another as more important than self.” It is to recognize that being a Christian is not about me, it is about others. It is to recognize that my conduct will result from my love for God, for the Lord, and for others. 

I find it interesting that the word translated as “humility of mind” (as a noun), before Paul’s time, is not found in Greek sources outside of the New Testament. When the adjective form of the word was found outside of the New Testament, it was used to describe the mentality of a slave; in other words, base, unfit, and no account. The pagan Greek writers did not view humility as a virtue. But the Holy Spirit, in inspiring the New Testament writers, used the example of Jesus who was Him-self “gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). In fact, the slave mentality was used to teach valuable and practical lessons about the importance of hu-mility for the one who would be pleasing to God. 

Jesus taught that true greatness in His kingdom is found in serving, not in be-ing served. In Mark 10:42-45 we find, “And calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” 

Have we not all marveled as we read the account of the Son of God rising from the supper, laying aside His garments, taking a towel and girding Himself about? “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disci-ples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded” (John 13:5). Have we understood the significance of what the Lord did that Thurs-day evening? With Jesus leading the way, we