OUR REGARD FOR OTHERS
The book of Philippians emphasizes the importance of unity. Paul, in Philippians 1:27, encouraged the Christians at Philippi to “ . . . stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel . . . .” In Philippians 2:2, he said that they needed to be like minded, have the same love, be of one accord, and of one mind. Euodias and Syntyche are encouraged by Paul to be of the same mind in the Lord (4:2).
The first part of chapter two lists various principles which promote unity within a congregation, and one of these is found in verse three. This verse says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
What does this actually mean, and how do we acquire this trait? This verse stresses the importance of humility and says that we are to esteem others better than ourselves. The NASB says, “ . . . Let each of you regard one another as more important than himself ” This verse is not saying that we are to go around with a negative view of ourselves and think of ourselves as “no good.” There are certainly other passages which would contradict this idea such as the attitude expressed by Paul when he said (Phil. 4:13), “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” No, the Scriptures are not saying that we are to have a negative attitude, but instead, the verse seems to be emphasizing that a proper view of our fellow Christians will reveal that most people (in certain ways) are better than we are. The point is that we must learn to esteem the various good qualities and virtues of others.
The attitude enjoined here is not very difficult for a humble person. Having the humble disposition that the Bible speaks of, we can more easily see what is due others. Furthermore, we know our own shortcomings better than anyone else. We do not always know the shortcomings of others. That is why it is easier for a humble person to see his own faults more than the faults of others and to esteem others better than himself.
We must work to cultivate the attitude taught in Philippians 2:3, as well as the attitudes found in other passages which promote unity, so that we can be pleasing to God. Unity in a congregation is extremely important, and we must do our part to promote it.