“Consider others as more important than yourself.”
- Philippians 2:3
Augustine once wrote that “those who would learn God's ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second, and humility is the third.” 1600 years later, we need these words more than ever.
We live in a world of self-assertion. We've become little gods in our attempt to be like God, trading the Creator for His creation (Ro. 1). Instead of submitting and receiving the blessing of following God's way, we have gone our own way. Self-help, self-love, and self-belief are the new way. Yet Jesus was very clear, anyone who wishes to follow Him “must deny himself and take up his cross” (Lk. 9:23).
What does King Jesus mean when He calls us to “deny ourselves...” He uses the Greek word aparnéomai, which can be translated as disown, abstain, and forget oneself. In Luke 9, Jesus is talking about losing sight of one's self and one's own interests.
Of course, this is easier said than done. We are all self-addicts. We love ourselves more than anything else. This is why Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” not because we can, but because He knows that there is no greater, stronger love than self-love, and He desires that we love our neighbors in that great and powerful way.
How does one begin to lose sight of one's self and one's own interests? You start by “considering others as more important than yourself” (Phil 2:3).
A close friend of ours pastors at a historic baptist church. The church has a massive pipe organ that was donated many years ago. The family who donated the organ has one matriarch who is still alive. She happens to be an organist. Thirty years ago, she was phenomenal. Her hands, not yet crippled by arthritis, her ears not ringing with tinnitus, she could play the organ beautifully. Today, not so much. But she still loves to play. Her greatest joy comes when sitting at that organ.
Every now and then, during service, the church will ask her to play. They love for her to play. They love for her to play because they genuinely love and care for her. Every now and then they deny their ears what they want to hear in order to consider her as more important than themselves. Amen.