Have you ever been in a discussion when it was difficult for the majority of the group to get a word in because of one dominate person doing all the talking? Isn’t that irritating? I find it especially frustrating when the dominate person speaks as if he or she is the expert in the subject, when it’s obvious that they know very little. Have you ever just wanted to, “slap ’em to China,” as my mother would say? Whew! I can feel my anxiety level rising with the very thought of such an exasperating person!
Even so, what about that verse in Philippians 2:3, where Paul instructs, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” This verse is often misunderstood. I have watched people over the years beat themselves up for not remembering to think of themselves as almost despicable. What? When we ask Jesus into our lives we become sons and daughters of The Almighty Holy One. Is that a lowly, despicable position? Absolutely not! To think of ourselves as a lesser human being than the people around us is not what this verse is teaching. It’s about respect.
Respect was not what the person in our illustration was exhibiting. That person was thinking way too highly of himself, not giving honor to the others in the group. When Paul was instructing that we think of others as better than ourselves, he was teaching that we must not automatically assume that we are the most intelligent, the most skilled, the most liked, etc. It could just be that someone else knows more than we do, is more skilled in a particular area, and is more popular than ourselves.
My father would often say that “balance is the key.” I have found that balance is the key in all areas of our lives. A balanced diet is the most healthy for our physical bodies as is a balanced exercise regime. A balanced use of our time, in our waking and sleeping hours, promotes a quicker thinking in our minds, a sense of well-being, and an energy that is otherwise lacking. A balance in our spiritual world where we use our time wisely, whether praying, playing, working, meditating on the things of God, spending time with family and friends, honoring them and respecting them, makes for a well rounded person.
To respect others, to build them up, to urge them on in their goals and aspirations, to encourage them where they are weak — that is thinking of others as better than ourselves. It’s simple recognition of truth; truth that says we must all know what our gifts are, and equally we must know what they are not. We must be willing to heed to the experience and knowledge of others with the attitude that we might learn something of value from them.
We must be careful, guarding our hearts, when we find that we are beating ourselves up as if we are the lowest of the low, because our Father loves us dearly. Equally, be careful of developing an over inflated head — best to let someone else do the complimenting of our knowledge and skills. If we do it ourselves, we could end up being the exasperating people that others want to “slap ’em to China!”