” 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”
In his desire to see the church grow and truly become the loving church Christ had come to establish, Paul gives a teaching that rocks us all back on our heels. I would say that if I could fulfill this one verse, I would be doing very well in serving Christ. This verse is the essence of the golden rule, but it is taken one step further.
First, nothing should be done out of strife. How many times have you done something just because someone pestered you so bad you finally gave in? If that’s never happened to you, you’re a better person than I am. Especially in my marriage, my wife often has to ask several times for some things she sees as important that I just don’t see the same need for. Now maybe she hasn’t done a good enough job explaining why it is so necessary, or maybe I’m just too thick skilled to pay for what she wants (probably the latter). By the time I end saying yes, there is strife, and she wonders why I just didn’t listen in the first place.
This happens in the church as well. We hear of someone not happy about something, and we know this person just likes to complain, so we ignore it. Before long, we find out there are several people who are not happy about the same thing, and now they are coming to us, and there is strife and anxiety about it. It should never get this far. It is up to me to make sure I am not causing people to get upset by ignoring their requests. They deserve an answer.
The second one is a little easier I think. Don’t do things out of vain glory. I hope most who are reading this post understand that God deserves all the glory, and we should never seek to take t away from Him. There is no place for self-promotion in the church. Now, if you do something for the church, and people thank you, it’s OK to receive their thanks. Just don’t let it go to your head. It is important that God always receive the glory. Any glory we receive is just vanity and will feed our pride, which is never a good thing. I have been guilty of basking in vain glory before – I never want to do that again.
The last part is the hardest one. Esteem others better than self. Put others before yourself, put their needs before yours, put their lives in higher regard than your own. Now Paul is not saying that we ignore ourselves – not at all. He is merely saying we have an obligation to help others, and if that inconveniences us, too bad.
I like to think of myself as a giving person. I try to help people out if they need a helping hand. But I can’t say I have ever gone out on a limb and helped someone with my last dime, when I hadn’t eaten yet. I haven’t given up my car to someone else could get to an important appointment when I needed to get some grocery shopping done. Putting others first is a little foreign to me, and is an area of my life that needs a lot of work. It is the essence of humility, and the opposite of pride. That is why it is so critical for us to do – it will crush any pride in us (unless we go and boast about al we have done – vain glory). We will explore this further tomorrow.
Lord, you know struggle with pride all the time. Help me to be more cognizant of the needs of others, and put aside my thinking that I have to take care of my needs first. You ask me to help others out before I help myself. Teach me Lord, how to do that and speak to me clearly when it is time for me to do something for someone else.