In Phillipians 2, Paul exhorts Christians “to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but consider others better than yourselves.”
This is relatively challenging for me to do even for my family and friends, the people I actually like. But sometimes I can pull it off, because I like them, and they deserve good treatment.
They deserve it. But what about those people whom I don’t like? What about those people who do not deserve special consideration?
Paul seems to anticipate this question by pointing out that Christ, who was God, put you, a mere mortal, ahead of himself. So whatever the distance in worthiness that separates me and the person I think undeserving of my consideration, it must be small relative to that distance between Christ and myself.
‘Yeah,’ I thought, ‘but it’s easy for Christ to be generous. He has all the resources of God to draw upon. Even his stint here on earth, as unpleasant as it turned out, must be a relatively small portion of his experience compared to what I presume was eternal heaven both before and after his time on earth. I, on the other hand, only have the meager resources of my own life.’
But then I realized that’s not true. My belief is that I too have eternity from here on out. So, if putting others ahead of myself requires a little of my time, that’s okay – I’ve got all eternity. My belief is that God has adopted me as a son, and is now overseeing my life and bringing to bear on it all his resources in heaven and on earth. So, if putting others ahead of myself costs me in money, or dignity, or whatnot, that’s okay – I’ve got all the resources of God behind me. I don’t need to be stingy; I can afford to put others ahead of myself.