Jesus and Equal Rights

I’ve been thinking and studying a lot lately on the topic of: friendships. (By the way, if you haven’t filled out the “Friendship Survey” I had on the blog a few weeks ago, I hope you’ll do that now by clicking here.) One important relationship ingredient I’ve noticed is treating others with respect, showing them that they are valuable. Scripture calls it “esteeming others as better.”

Okay, let me begin by stating the obvious: “esteeming others as better” is not an easy practice. Not only is it difficult to do, and admittedly, the concept may even be difficult to understand! Perhaps you hear the phrase “esteeming others better” and confuse value or worth with treatment.

If you flip over to Philippians 2:3, you’ll find this instruction:

• esteem each other as “better” (KJV)
• “count others as more significant than yourselves” (ESV)
• “regard one another as more important than yourselves” (NASB)

This instruction may initially sound as though others are “more significant” or “more important” and therefore “more valuable.” But according to Genesis 1:27, we’re all created in God’s image and therefore all individuals are of equal value.

So, if we’re all equal, why shouldn’t I expect to be treated equally? Why should I “esteem someone better” than myself? Doesn’t that seem a little like “inequality?”

The key to understanding this practice is found in Philippians 3:5-6, which point us to our supreme example: Jesus, who “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Whoa. Let’s stop right there.

Did you get that?

The God-man, Jesus Christ, did not grab for or demand His equality! Think about it—His worth, quality, and value was Deity.

His value was Deity!

But He did not demand to be treated as Deity. In fact, He released His “right to be treated as God” in order to willingly take on the form of a servant. He humbled Himself to the point of death, even the most despicable form of death: death on the cross.

God on the cross—that defines humility!

What does this have to do with our friendships? Everything.

Although all are created equal, Scripture calls us to treat others as though they are more valuable than ourselves. We must move beyond our natural inclination to demand “equal treatment” and beyond insisting on “our rights.”

The call to follow Christ is the call to climb up on the cross. It is the call to humility. It is being willing to treat others with the mind and attitude Christ demonstrated when He willingly went to the cross.

How do you “esteem others as better?” What are some ways you live this out?