Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (NIV)
Back in the Middle Ages, a man called Copernicus got into a lot of trouble for daring to suggest the earth revolved around the sun. Many objected to the idea that the earth was not the centre of the known universe. But he was right.
And so is Paul as he urges us to not place ourselves at the centre. Haven’t we all met those who are utterly preoccupied with themselves, taking no interest in others unless it is an opportunity for them to get the focus back on themselves? Haven’t we met those are so absorbed in their own situation that they do not grasp others’ situations?
When it comes to valuing others above ourselves, it doesn’t mean we render ourselves worthless. We are to care for ourselves and about ourselves. But we make the time and effort to care for others as well. We can value others without devaluing ourselves.
Many years ago, theatre stages were brightly lit by having lime burnt in containers in the area needing illumination. Hence, those starring in a play were said to be in the limelight. We do not belong in the limelight. We are not the stars, we are not the only players. There is a world beyond ourselves, people other than ourselves. The one who writes and directs the play urges us not to be solo celebrities, but valued and helpful supporting acts.