“Let nothing be done out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).
Lowliness of mind is the opposite of pride. This idea of putting others first is a theme in Scripture. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).
Unfortunately, we are all pretty good at finding out the faults and shortcomings of others, and either pointing these faults out or sharing them (complaining about them) with others. You may hear parents do this. They don’t want others to think they approve of their children’s mistakes or failures or bad habits, so they point them out or make fun of them. But this is pride. Rather than “esteeming them better than themselves” by training and teaching and loving, the parent tries to put distance between them. But children need their parents to identify with them, not put distance and criticism between them. That’s how parents drive their kids away.
Lowliness of mind has to be cultivated. A lowly mind naturally puts others first; it considers their frame. It sees the faults, but overlooks them, and doesn’t keep a record of them. Pride takes note of the shortcoming and gets annoyed at them. But love covers them.
Spurgeon said, “Faults are thick where love is thin.” If someone is especially on your fault-finding radar, then pray for love. Ask God to give you the love to spread over the faults you see. Seek His forgiveness.
So start at home. Whom are you finding fault with? Your husband? Your kids? Your parents or friends or roommates? If you have a critical spirit, you do not have lowliness of mind.
If you are critical of your children or friends or husband, they will pick up on it and be discouraged or get defensive. Lowliness of mind encourages and nurtures. It genuinely considers others to be better or more important; it doesn’t just pretend to have that mindset.
How do we get this? We might start by taking a minute to consider some of our own faults and shortcomings. We’re not so hot ourselves! Lowliness of mind is a work of the Spirit in our lives. Pride is the work of our own flesh. So we know where to go to get this.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).