Think of others as better than ourselves? Don’t Be So Easily Fooled!
2,000 words – by Mary A. LaClair
Are believers in Christ to be lower than commoners or as Scriptures tell us, are we to be kings and priests?
Phil 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” RSV
1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
If we, the people of God, are a royal priesthood and a holy nation, then we are not lesser than others! HOW does one reconcile these two verses? If you know, please pass it on! Are we lower than commoners or are we kings and priests?
God calls His chosen, those who answer His call, to be priests and kings. How, then, or why, are we to think of others as better than ourselves? Thinking of others as just as good as us is one thing. But, better than ourselves. This is a hard saying. I believe that when God has elevated His repentant and forgiven ones to priests and kings, and we bow to others – thinking them better than us, we can actually nullify God’s wishes and nullify the authority which He gives us. By doing this we hinder His work. Luke 10:1-18
I struggled for many years with the Scripture which says ‘think of others as better than yourselves’, because there were times when God asked me to do something and I felt there were others who were better suited, so I avoided the task. Wrong ! Just what the devil wanted me to do. So, I went checking many translations of Scripture hoping to find a version which clarified this. I was disappointed. Commentaries skipped it. I asked a Pastor, but did not get a satisfactory answer there either. I struggled with it to the point where I was finally telling God that I thought someone had made a mistake. He did not answer for quite awhile. But, I actually felt He was smiling while I waited for His answer. It is God’s privilege to conceal and His privilege to reveal. This is how Scripture can last us a life time.
Prov 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. ” ‘NIV
At Bible Study, when the ‘others better than yourself’ came up, a recovering alcoholic with self-esteem problems was in attendance. She was immediately downcast. I knew well that some of the older ladies there were not thinking her better then they. This special lady had taken one step forward and now two steps back.
I challenged the teachers by telling her that it simply meant that we were not to think less of ourselves, but to think of ourselves just as good as others, and others just as good as us. She smiled when I told her it was not meant to demean us but that Jesus has made us priests and kings. Think of yourself that way first and foremost. When she went home I hope she did not drown low esteem in a bottle. That lady thanked me. The teachers did not. If I was clever, I could have said, “These ladies are thinking of you as being better than themselves” but it did not occur to me at the time, and it may not have been true.
A pastor curtly told me that it meant that we were to treat others the same way Jesus treated us. That may be good advice but it did not simplify this particular Scripture. Maybe it does for you. I believed then, and still believe now, we need to act like priests and kings (1 Peter 2:9-10), especially if we are told that is what we are. And we are told. We are ambassadors of Christ, and should act like it.
Ryan Dobson says in his book: “It’s OK To Be Intolerant: Because some things are just stupid” :
Eph 5:15 “Be careful therefore how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.”
Matt. 16:6 “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Matt: 10:16 “Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
My husband is often heard saying: “There are only two people I trust, you and me, and I’m not so sure about you!” Good advice.
We, who are full of Christ, should not let ourselves be over-ruled by the un-godly, thinking the un-godly better than ourselves. This is happening. It is not working. This is the danger of mis-interpreting this particular Scripture. God gives us wisdom, we need to be glad of it. We should use it, not hide it under a bushel. The secret is in realizing what Wisdom comes from Him.
What now about that troubling Bible verse? Did God ever answer? Yes, yes, He did. When I least expected it He dropped the answer in my lap. DayStar TV’s was the channel REFLECTIONS: Scripture overwritten on beautiful scenery, with soft music was the program. One day, that particular verse ‘just happened’ to come up the very moment I turned on TV. And instantly , it seems, the lights came on. It was an “A-Ha” moment.
Phil 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” RSV
To whom is this verse addressed? This verse is addressing the selfish and the conceited. It is not addressing anyone else!
It might as well say:
Attention you who are selfish and proud, listen up! Do nothing from greed or pride, instead consider others better than yourself.
It is addressed to the ‘selfish and proud’. It is not addressed to all believers in general.
If the first half of that verse doesn’t apply to you, don’t worry about the second half.
We should know who we are in Christ – as the redeemed, we are the head and not the tail. Never give in or agree with those who would try to re-interpret our Christianity for us because of our lack of knowledge.
Hos 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” NIV
Notice to whom this is addressed: “My people…” Hmmm…
Neither are we to relinquish our wisdom in the name of ‘tolerance’. Being a people pleaser can make us guilty of making people our god. Our job is to please God.
I would like to recommend two books:
1. Ryan Dobson: BE INTOLERANT – because some things are just stupid
2. O.S.Hawkins: THE DANIEL CODE – living out truth in a culture losing its way
These may be found at Barnes and Noble, on line at http://www.Bookfinder.com or at http://www.ChristianBook.com
The devil will twist Scripture and try to get us to mis-interpret God’s Word. He did it to Jesus in the dessert, he does it to us. We, as priests and kings, can be bold and courageous when we know God is with us. Deut 31:6; Joshuah1:9.
What we are talking about is not giving away our position of priests and kings – not relinquishing our knowledge and wisdom. The devil wants us to think all others are better than we are (the accuser of the brethren) and he will often use this Scripture, mis-representing it, as he mis-represented Scripture to Jesus in the dessert. Case in point: when they say ‘you must be tolerant’ we must remember that we are to be salt and light, not bending to the immoral ills of society.
Google the word ‘tolerant’ or ‘tolerate’ in Scripture. You will find it in Rev chapter three. God has this against one of the churches: “I have this against you, you tolerate those who…”
Phil 2:3 “When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves.” NCV New Contemporary Version
The word instead denotes a prior condition. Instead means instead: If you are not doing A, you don’t need to do B instead.
The first half did not apply to our friend, so the second half did not apply. At that time, I just didn’t know how to explain it to her in this way
We, as Priests and Kings, abdicate our authority and power in Christ when we think of others as better than ourselves when they are not. It can also lead to anarchy. To do so, negates our necessity to bring others to repentance, as Jesus did, and as He instructs us to do.
The New English Translation puts it this way :
Phil 2:3-4 ” Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” (from The NET Bible®, Copyright © 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C., Dallas, Texas, http://www.bible.org. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
To whom is this being addressed? The words ‘being motivated’ denote an ongoing process.
Can we see from this that when reading Scripture, it is always good to read the verse and ask “To whom is this being addressed?”
If it talks about a ‘believer’ or a ‘whomsoever’, one may put their own name in, because then it’s often addressed to us as individuals.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” ASV
Be a ‘whosoever’ today, but don’t be a selfish, prideful whosoever. (<:
Can’t get this Josh Turner song out of my mind regarding this writing:
“ I treated that bad woman good; Lord, I need a good woman, bad.”
The proof is in; it doesn’t always pay to treat bad people good. Isaiah 26:10 also comes to mind:
“Though mercy is shown to the unrepentant, …” :
Isa 26:10 “Even though you are kind to wicked men, they never learn to do what is right. Even here in a land of righteous people they still do wrong; they refuse to recognize your greatness.” TEV
Isa 26:10 “Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the Lord.“NASU
1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” NIV
Rev 5:9-10 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” NIV
Rev 1:5-6 “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. ” NIV
Obadiah 21 “Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the Lord ‘s.” NIV
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What a wonderful and timely piece! Part of what was received while reading is to not lower who you are and who Jesus says you are. Yes, we can learn from others, they may have things to teach us, but never forget who you are and whose you are! Thank you for writing this wonderful piece and for the lessons we need to learn.
Thank you, Ruth. I think the church needs to rise up in confidence, not grovel. AND we need, really need, to stop letting non-Christians tell us what Christ expects of us; when they do that they are judging us – and they are not our Judge.