We knew that God is no respecter of persons. Nonetheless, the Apostle Paul seems to suggest that others might be better than we are:
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
This is not true. But Paul did not say others were better. He said to treat others as if they were better. This is a correction for typical behavior, even for Christians. We find it so difficult to put the well-being of others ahead of our own. Paul goes on to say that we need to follow the example of Jesus:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death —
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
We have done nothing to merit the grace of God. That is why God’s gift is called grace. Why should others merit our esteem?
We are familiar with Paul’s injunction that wives should submit themselves to their husbands. Many will scoff at this “old-fashioned” idea. How about the husband’s responsibility?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind — yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:25-28)
Are we able to lay down our lives for others? Christ laid down His life while we were yet sinners.
Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
It is much easier to grasp the concept of personal sacrifice for others when we have made a sacrifice to God. Paul writes:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Perhaps it takes a broken heart before God to understand what personal sacrifice means:
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)