The world today emphasises a focus on self and what pleases us. In such an environment how can we develop the outgoing love and concern for others God wants us to have?
Philippians 2:3 is very clear about the approach we should have to each other and states: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves.”
This verse first of all mentions two conditions or attitudes we should avoid in our relationships with one another. The first attitude to avoid is one of ‘strife’. Adam Clark’s Commentary has an excellent explanation of this approach: “Never be opposed to each other, never act from separate interests ... in the use of your various gifts, do nothing ... to promote your own reputation, separately considered from the comfort, honor, and advantage of all.” In other words, our actions should always be done with consideration of how it will affect others.
The other attitude to avoid is ‘vain glory’ or empty pride. It is related to ‘strife’ and can be defined as vanity and self-promotion only benefiting yourself. Our approach should be to uplift others and contribute to the common good of the body.
‘Lowliness of mind’ is mentioned in Philippians 2:3 as a trait we should nurture and it grows from the knowledge of our own defects. By viewing ourselves as sinners, prone to self-serving actions, we can begin to see the truth of who we are in relation to God and our fellow man. How can we ever think of ourselves too highly if we see our Father and His Son as they truly are?
An attitude of humility can be defined as insight into one’s insignificance as it relates to God and others. Focusing on the gifts and strengths of others is a natural outgrowth of humility and the first step on the pathway of esteeming others better than ourselves.
One of Satan’s defects of character is pride and his belief he is more important than he is. When we look at the defects and shortcomings of others, it’s an attempt to overlook our own shortcomings and to elevate ourselves in the sight of others and God. This prevents us from getting the log out of our own eyes (Matthew 7:1-5).
Philippians 2:4 further emphasizes the attitude we should have when it states the following: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man on the things of others.”