So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
The church at Philippi had people from different backgrounds. Remember the fashion CEO Lydia, the demon possessed girl, and the jailer? They were all as different as can be. I imagine that they all had different ideas and thoughts about how things should be, or might should go and I’m sure that each one had their own issues or personality quirks.
The Apostle Paul reminds them (and us) that believers are to be a humble people. Humble doesn’t mean poor or that you tear yourself down (this can actually be a weird source of pride). Being humble involves how you treat and think about other people.
Paul gives some clear examples of what humility doesn’t look like. He says don’t do anything out of rivalry. Rivalry is an attempt to outdo someone else. Paul says that we don’t need to be the guy constantly attempting to one-up everyone. A great way to check for that is think back to conversations you have with your friends. Do you find yourself trying to come up with a story or idea to top everyone’s story when you talk? You might want to check your heart for rivalry.
Paul also warns us about conceit. Conceit is tricky. It can sneak up on you. It sits in the back of your mind and it judges everyone around you. You constantly compare yourself to everybody else and you win every time! Of course you tend to overlook the bad things you have done because you know what you “intended to do” while at the same time you judge everyone else’s actions harshly. Take a few moments and check your heart for conceit. Ask God to reveal if you’ve been motivated by either one of these false motives.
So how do you battle wrong attitudes like rivalry or conceit? You count others as better than yourself. This isn’t to put you down, but it does serve to build up other people. I’ve found that It’s very difficult to have these bad attitudes if I’m constantly putting the needs of others ahead of my own and encouraging people around me. It’s hard to try and one-up someone when I take time to genuinely be happy for something cool that’s happened in their life. It’s very difficult to be conceited when I’m constantly giving other people the benefit of the doubt and judging my own missteps with a little more discernment.
If you find yourself guilty of rivalry or conceit, confess your sin to God. Ask Him to give you an attitude of humility.