Coffee bushes and papaya trees encircle her cinder block home; stitched tribal garments hang near the door, distinguishing her as an honored citizen and village elder. When I first visited, she was adorned in her finest, spending the hottest part of the day as our self-appointed caretaker. Highly regarded, she chose to lower herself in humble servitude, preparing trays of fruit, refreshing our water, inviting us to sit so she could give. Setting aside her own needs, she ministered to our fatigue. 1 Corinthians shows how love is patient and how it looks when I am full of love. Love is in its glory when a person of honor bends low to serve another.
Jesus bowed Himself all the way from the throne of heaven to a woman’s womb, so He could serve mankind. Humility is the opposite of rivalry and pride, intentionally putting oneself below your rightful level or position. While we usually frown on making comparisons, to take hold of a first-Corinthians-kind-of-love, let’s discover and embrace the comparisons of Philippians 2:1-8.
Love takes hold when God’s people are the same … united in mind and love. (v. 2) Paul invites readers to compare themselves and see if they agree and share the same humble thoughts and passions. Opinions direct our actions; we only strive together in humility when we choose to go low together.
Love counts others more significant than self … “more than” how we count our self. Despite His perfect nature and divine sonship, Jesus valued our lives above His own. To “count” is to contemplate and direct attention to the needs of another. How do your thoughts about your own value and your own life’s concerns compare to how you think about those of others?
Love includes the interests of others … not only our own. We do look out for own interests, but “not only” our own interests. Humility requires measuring how much energy, time, and passion we allot for our interests in comparison to looking out for others = not easy in a world empathetic to our right to “be good to yourself.” If “self” dominates our attention, we need a change of heart and mind.
Love has this mind … not the other mind. “This mind” is a mind like Christ. Our opinion of self and others drives the way we strive in life. Jesus so valued man that He lowered Himself into a human embryo, grew up through the life stages of a man, and offered His perfect self to the very ones He created. In an ultimate act of humility, He was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Jesus did the comparisons and saw that we are totally sinful, while He is totally perfect. Though the Person of greatest honor, He served beyond our wildest hope. He chose to be low. He chose to be obedient.
Jesus’ lowest moment was Love’s most glorious moment.
This summer I revisited my tribal friend to find her weak and suffering. Her hands trembled as she welcomed us into the coolness of her dim home with mat covered floors. With great effort, she brought trays of fruit and a costly bottle of water to minister to our needs, and she lowered herself to the floor to be with us. Love doesn’t insist on the place of honor. Our tongues spoke different words, but the language of her love was clear and strong. Love bows low in humble service to ones it values.
When it comes to love, comparison challenges the hearts and minds of ones like me: given to looking out for myself, seeking my own way, happy to give a “piece of my mind.” Do you dare to compare?
- Do I have the “same mind” as other followers of Christ?
- Do I think I’m “more significant” than others?
- Do I look out for the interests of others, “not only” mine?
- Do I have “this mind” of Christ or a selfish mind?
Let’s dare to compare with ones who bow low in love’s stance. We’ll be in good company.