Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18, 2011 … Placing Others Above Self

Passage of the Day: [NIV] Philippians 2: 3 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Note the NASB version - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; …

My Journal for Today: I’ve added the NASB version of Phil. 2: 3 above as well as the NIV because this translation defines “humility” as “humility of the mind,” emphasizing the attitudinal quality we’ve been discussing in depth this month. The Apostle Paul had a real challenge in describing this quality to his Christian readers his epistle in the 1st century. According to John MacArthur in Strength for Today, these 1st century believers in Philippi were influenced heavily by the Greek culture of the day; and the Greeks thought of humility as an attitude only for slaves. So, using any term to describe “humility” to Greek minds in those days would have been considered as an extreme term of derision. Therefore, to discuss the concept of “humility of the mind” (see NASB version above), Paul invented a new Greek term, a compound word, “tapienophronsune,” because his readers in that culture would have never responded constructively to the common Greek term for humility, “tapeinos.” This latter term would have referred to slaves graveling in lowliness before their masters. So, Paul compounded this word for “lowliness” with the Greek word for “heart” or “mind” to produce what is translated in the KJV of Phil. 2: 3 as “lowliness of mind.” Paul was trying to help the Christians at Philippi to be able to put the concept of Christlike humility into some operational context where they would understand the importance of this attitude quality of Christlikeness without dismissing it as a “slave-like” attitude.

Paul, of course, fully understood how difficult it was for anyone to wrestle with pride and a deceitful heart [as you probably know from Jer. 17: 9]. One can read Paul’s story, reported by Luke in Acts 9, or his self described struggles with pride and sin in Romans 7, verses 14 - 24. So, Paul empathized with the readers of his epistle to the Philippians, as well he would with believers even now, as to how difficult it was or is to develop the Christlike mindset of humility that would allow believers to develop unity in Christ’s Church, which they (we) would need to confront the world and walk with worthiness as Christians (again revisit Ephesians 4: 1 – 4).

To bring the good news of the Gospel to a world which puts “humility” down, which is as true today as much as it was in the 1st century, is very difficult. We know that one cannot receive Christ as Savior and Lord without an attitude of humility. So, it behooves all of us, who follow Christ and His Great Commission (in Matt. 28: 19 - 20), to keep on being as humble as we can to receive the enabling grace we will need to bring the Gospel to a lost world.

My Prayer Today: Help me, Lord, to think of others before self. Amen

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