Step 9. Are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider others better than ourselves.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Here’s something that could make your day different. Make a conscious effort to consider everyone you meet today as someone who is better than you. Not necessarily better at doing things, because there will always be some things you are better at than someone else. We’re talking importance, value and worth. Consider other people as more important than you. What they say is more important than what you say; what they think is more important that what you think; what they did this weekend is more important than what you did this weekend; their dreams and goals are more important than your dreams and goals. You’re not waiting for a chance to talk; you are waiting for a chance to listen. If listening is more important than talking, then you are probably on the right track.
This has to be genuine, too. It can’t be just a trick or a gimmick. I’ll try to believe this guy’s important, but I already know he is not. You can’t talk yourself into this; you have to really believe it. And the way you do this is to see everyone through the eyes of Christ. See everyone as someone for whom Christ died and rose again. He loves them just as they are, but He doesn’t want to leave them that way; He wants to make them new.
We had church in our back yard yesterday. There were five people there. One of them talked about having a run-in with a nasty neighbor — a curmudgeon of a man who walks his dogs and complains to neighbors about the way they raise their kids or keep their property. At one point our friend was compelled to fight back and they ended up engaging in a shouting match in front of their house that didn’t really accomplish much. We all can probably think about people like this who cross our paths. How do you deal with this?
Well, chances are, the man’s been abused. Someone has yelled at him for a good deal of his life. How else do you learn this behavior? He’s probably scared to death of a real relationship, so his anger is a way of keeping everyone away from him. He’s probably very unhappy with himself — probably very guilty — and rather than experience that guilt and unhappiness, he puts it on everyone else. We’ve already learned that about judgment: you are quickest to judge in someone else those things about which you feel guilty. Free this guy of all this crap, and you could have someone you might actually like. So perhaps there’s a way of thinking about him as free of this. Think about what he would be like with Christ in him, and you might be able to envision a different person.
I don’t think it’s beyond us to actually do this. I believe this is something of what it means to consider others better than ourselves. Believe they actually are. See them as they would be in Christ.
We ended church with communion using whatever elements we had handy, so the body of Christ turned out to be a couple of Kashi Original 7 Grain Snack Crackers broken in two, and the blood of Christ was a glass of Ravenswood Merlot, which I believe is exactly what Jesus had in mind. Stop in the middle of what you’re doing and remember me. Use whatever is there. “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup …” meaning at least once a day. And as we did, we remembered Christ’s death and resurrection to redeem scoundrels like us, and establish a new covenant with us in his blood — a covenant based on His finished work, not our good behavior. And if He did this for us, He did this for the neighborhood curmudgeon as well, and maybe we need to start seeing him that way, too.
“Considering others as better than yourself” is a way you can actually change the world around you. Do this enough, and people might start to believe you.
- How can we consider others better than ourselves without having a self-image problem? If we consider ourselves to be the least of the least, how can we believe that we have value?
- How would seeing with the eyes of Jesus instead of our own make a difference in our relationships?
- How is it possible that there is something true or noble or right or pure or lovely or admirable in every person? Is there anyone you can think of for whom this is not the case? Even through Christ’s eyes?