How Important Are you?

If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6:3

When it comes to local fellowship, there are some very clear and direct words concerning how we think about ourselves in relation to others. Paul in Philippians 2:3 reminds us, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”  Not very difficult to understand what Paul is saying, is it?  He then goes on to give us the extent to which that applies by showing us the Lord’s example of humility and sacrifice on the cross. The Saviour laid down His life for His enemies.  That’s not a small thing. We have the perfect standard of sacrifice as our goal to emulate.

What I have learned in my short 38 years on this earth (and 31 years on the journey home), is that most division in the local church comes from just one thing – someone thinking they are more important than someone else. It really is that simple. Pride and self-interest get in the way of unity. I’m reminded of what John writes to Gaius in his 3rd letter about “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminience.”  It’s not that he was a leader that was the problem, but his love for power and position.  He abused his authority and created a lot of problems.

It’s not always a Diotrephes that causes problems. Often there are small disagreements that escalate because one feels his rights are being taken away. I have had a believer tell me to my face that because he/she had been around longer than me in the local church it gave him/her more of a voice. That kind of attitude is the exact opposite of the example the Lord set for us. None of us have any claim of position in the local church.

Just a note on elders and deacons. They are always seen in scripture as a plurality and they are to be obeyed in their roles. The plurality is the key to understanding their authority.  While elders and deacons in a general sense are to be respected, they are also a part of the whole body and are to act with humility. A title does not imply right.

This is where many elders fail to lead in a Christ-like manner. They assume that because they have been recognized it means they have a higher standing in the local church. This is far from the truth. Elders and deacons are servants first. As individuals they hold the same position as any other born again believer. The beauty of eldership is that as a group they come together to lead the local church. One elder alone does not lead the church – a group of men lead.  That group effort gives stability and structure and vision. But as individuals they are to serve with humility just as the rest. In fact, they are to be under-shepherds of the Lord Jesus and reflect His character.  An excellent resource for elders is Elders’ ShopNotes at bible-equip.org/esn.

The challenge today in my own heart is to evaluate my attitude towards others and myself. My comparison then turns only to the Lord Jesus to have His mind.  Make it your challenge today and by His grace, may we never put ourselves before others in a way the causes division and harm.

One comment

  1. Crawford: this is excellent follow up from your prior post Is Forgiveness an Option?. Humility is so difficult to practice in daily life, yet so important. Your challenge to ‘evaluate my attitude towards others and myself’ will not be easy for me, but is something that could change my life for the better.

    Thanks bro.