NKJV - 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
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First of all, no matter what, no one is better than anyone else. John 3:16 clearly indicates that God gave Himself in the physical and visible form of Jesus for all humanity. What Jesus did for all, he would have done for any one "lost sheep". On that basis alone, we are of equal worth, or value, to God. A proper interpretation of Paul's statement would need to be consistent with the truth that no person is better than the other. Is it possible to esteem others better than oneself without being in conflict with the truth of human equality? Yes, in relation to conventional human perception! For example, a boss washing his employee's feet might be more surprising than an employee washing the boss's feet! The boss may be viewed as condescending or as a humble person. The employee, on the other hand, may be viewed as just doing his job. Acts of humility and more fundamentally, acts of selfless service include the treatment of others as though they were "better", or more deserving, than the one offering the service. The text suggests a recognition, on Paul's part, of the existence of a prevailing mindset as alluded to in this commentary. Should we consider ourselves? Yes! The command to love one's neighbor as oneself suggests that we are to love ourselves as well as our neighbors. Furthermore, we should love those whom God loves, seeing that it is actually God who is doing the loving through us. God loves us as well as others! Based on that understanding, we are to love ourselves too.
I believe that the words "better than" mean that we should consider others "rather than" ourselves. Not that one is better than another, but that we are to always be mindful of one another's benefit, even if that means a sacrifice on my part. It is not to say that anyone is better than I am, nor am I any better than anyone else, just that before I think of myself alone, I should consider the impact of my actions on another, and to act accordingly.
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