“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Striving has us trying to do one better than someone else. In showing our superiority we aim to show another’s inferiority. Paul listed strife as a work of the flesh. (Gal. 5:20) He cautioned the Galatians to walk in the Spirit, lest they “bite and devour one another.” (Gal. 5:15) Such a walk requires “lowliness of mind,” not an exalted opinion of one’s self. Such has us esteeming others better, not worse, than ourselves.
Paul located the place where a believer was most apt to become high-minded. “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” (1 Cor. 8:1) Instead of demonstrating how much we know, he exhorted the body to excel in the better way of love.
“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2)
The Greeks gloried in wisdom. The sage was venerated among them. Paul was willing to be a fool in the eyes of a Greek church. “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.” (1 Cor. 4:10) He advised them to abandon the pursuit of vainglory found in appearing to be wise. “If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” (1 Cor. 3:18)
Even as Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness, His wisdom is made perfect when we acknowledge ourselves as fools. Jesus was meek and lowly of heart. He did nothing of Himself; He knew nothing of Himself. He did what He saw the Father do; He spoke what He heard the Father say. Of certain things He confessed His ignorance. (Mk. 13:32) What He did and said was for the glory of the Father, who was at work in Him. He never sought to showcase His power or wisdom to gain the honor of men. His works and His words came forth out of obedience to the Father.
God knew that His choicest servant was in danger of self-exaltation through the abundance of revelations given to him. (2 Cor. 12:7) Are any of us so spiritual that we can’t fall into the snare of the pride of life? Religious pride is just as odious as any other form of pride. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD” (Prov. 16:5) It is not what we know that is so important, but who we know. “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Cor. 8:2)
There is a knowledge which God gives us permission to glory in: the fact that we personally know Him. (Jer. 9:23,24) If our quest is to know and be known of God, we will find a life that can boast like the Son boasted. “Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.” (John 8:55) Yes, there are some who know more than others.