What do Oprah Winfrey and Jase Robertson of Duck Dynasty have in common? If you’ve been keeping up with the news you know that both recently were judged based on their looks – Oprah allegedly being denied the opportunity to purchase an expensive bag in a shop in Sweden because being black the shop keep thought she may not have the means to afford the bag; and Robertson being escorted out of his hotel in New York city because the staff thought he was a homeless man due to his long beard and scruffy appearance.
There is that old saying about not judging a book by its cover, but there is something deeper here I want to get to.
I want to share with you what Paul tells us in Philippians2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
I was teaching this Sunday in my adult Sunday school and one of the participants said, “Well, consider most people better than yourselves.” Isn’t that really how we go about it? We’re happy to consider most people better than ourselves – you know, the ones we pick and choose to allow to be better than us – the ones we’re comfortable allowing to be better than us. But that isn’t what Paul is saying here. His command to us – this isn’t a suggestion – is to be humble and consider all others better than ourselves.
I think you can see the importance of this in our lives but let me illustrate how it might play out in our everyday world.
Right now as I look out my office window a work crew is getting ready to start some street repairs outside my house. The home owner association alerted us to this a couple weeks ago and told us that if we wanted to use our cars for the next 24 hours we’d have to move them of this street! That kind of stuff just drives me nuts! I don’t know why but for some reason it just ticks me off. So this morning I got us at 6 a.m. and drove my car to another street to park it for the next 24 hours just in case I need to use it while they are doing the work. To make matters worse, my Pollyanna wife always takes these things in stride with a smile as if they are no big deal, which they really aren’t. This is when I hear Paul’s words: Humble yourself and consider others better than you, Tom! These folks just have a job to do and they’re not doing it just to tick you off!
How about the guy that cuts you off in traffic? Can you consider him better than yourself or do you need to go all road rage on him? How about the guy on the corner with the sign that reads, “Would I lie? I need Beer!” Do you consider him better than yourself? (I struggle with this one!) How about someone who is rude or inconsiderate to you? Do they qualify as being better than you?
Jesus set the bar really high for us when he told us to love our enemies. I don’t know how many of you have actual enemies, but I bet a lot of you have had “frenemies!” You know, friends that seemingly have turned on you. But even they have to be people you consider better than yourself as you turn the other cheek and accept insult and abuse.
I think this is one of the most difficult pieces of our Christian walk and where we as Christians look no different than our non-believing friends, which is a real shame. Instead of showing the love of Christ by considering others better than ourselves we show the ugliness of pride, jealousy, discrimination, judgment, and conceit.
Are there areas in your life where you consider yourself better than others? Be honest! If so, take that first step that Paul commands – humble yourself. Remember you’re not doing this for yourself or the other person; you’re doing it for God so that you can please Him and do His will in your life! And when you do that God will bless you to the full!
As for Oprah, they now are saying it was a big misunderstanding. Had everyone considered the “others better than themselves” and just talked there would have been no misunderstanding from anyone’s point of view and none of this would have made the papers or this blog! As for the Duck Dynasty Guy, getting escorted out of a NY hotel for being a redneck probably improved his show’s ratings!
Remember friends, Jesus told us that people would know we are his disciples by the way we love one another. Let’s stand out by being those kinds of disciples!