Preferring others over ourselves is rarely convenient, frequently unappreciated and not often economically astute. Yet, the Scripture is very clear that we should try to prefer others over ourselves if we are members of the Christian community.
Preferring others above ourselves does not mean we downgrade ourselves to upgrade someone else. It’s kind of the opposite. It’s hard to see how pushing ourselves down to raise someone else up helps us or anyone in our familial, social, and professional circles. Elevating people around us seems best accomplished from a position of strength.
Preferring others can manifest itself in many ways and has many faces: It is the single parent who takes on two jobs to send their kids to college so they can have the hope of a better life. The economically challenged household who uses the little resources they have to help a family member in need, even when it is not appreciated. It can be a simple pause while we are dominating a conversation with our own issues and concerns to ask someone else in the room how they have been or how their children are doing. It could be an employer who’s struggling with payroll because of an industry downturn or macro-economic conditions: but to her own hurt does everything she can to keep her employees working because she cares about their families welfare and economic realities.
The struggles we have had with diversity could find at least a partial solution in Paul’s guidance in the book of Romans, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” It is a simple remedy to a complex problem, but it would likely be transforming if on a personal level more of us refrained (myself included) from selfishness, self-importance and self-serving behavior and attitudes. If we raised the bar and made a habit of preferring others above ourselves it would be easier to think of everyone else as equals.
Joseph C. Hutchison
Rochester Hills, Michigan
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