Paul spoke of Christ’s example of humility for us. He encouraged the church to remain in unity and love. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Paul cautioned against the tendency for us to be self-seeking and conceited. It is our human nature and tendency to consider; ‘what’s in it for me.’ Paul was not saying that we should not consider our own interests, just that we also consider the interest of others. His desire is that we have the mind of Christ and keep within us his example of humility. “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6).
Rather, Christ emptied himself, took the form of a servant and became human like us. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death on the cross. How many people would have ten thousand angels at their disposal and submit themselves to be tortured, beaten and crucified? Most of us don’t even have the self restraint to take an insult without retaliating. Since Jesus was able to obey his father’s commands and remained humble, God has exalted him. Jesus has been given a name that is above every other name. “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). Every tongue must confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord to glorify God our father.
As we humble ourselves, we will be exalted in due season. We have to master humility in order to experience exaltation. Humility is not pretending to be poor or stupid, but requires the ability to put other people first. Life can be hard at times and abuse by others can cause us to become self-centred and self-focused. When a person has not been loved and cared for by significant others, they can develop the tendency to focus solely on themselves. This is a defence mechanism and a maladaptive coping strategy developed to maintain self-preservation. It is understandable, because if a parent for example, does not care for a child, they have to learn to care for and fend for themselves.
The challenge is to find the right balance between self-preservation and becoming self-aggrandised. Without balance the abused can become the abuser or the manipulated become manipulative. Some people who did not have their needs met by significant others, can place unreasonable demands on others to meet their needs. This can cause people with unresolved trauma to become needy, toxic and demanding. This manifests in placing unreasonable demands on people to be available all of the time. These patterns of behaviours are draining and pushes other people away. This then reinforces the toxic cycle for the abused person who receives the message that they are unloveable. This can result in more manipulative behaviours in an effort to have their needs met.
We thank God for the saving power of Jesus Christ that can heal body, soul, mind and spirit. Self-preservation is important and taking steps to ensure that your own needs are met. The crux is maintaining balance so that we don’t become overly self-focused, self-centred and self-absorbed. While you focus on the need to be heard, take some time to listen. While you have the desire to have other people who are concerned for your welfare, consider the welfare of others.“a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).