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When we follow God’s call to count others as more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:2–4), love produces unity. The humble person values others above himself, seeking others’ interests and choosing others over self. In contrast, conceit views oneself as most important, and its partner, selfish ambition, places one’s own interests above those of others.

The world, which chooses selfish ambition, perceives the one who submits or lays down his life in love as lesser or weak, but the Trinity’s acts of love for humans show that such love does not diminish one’s worth. The Father’s giving up His Son for us didn’t make Him of less value than us, nor did Christ’s submission to the Father make Him less God than the Father. Christ counted us significant, laying down His life, yet He is the eternal Son of God, far surpassing humans in worth. His sacrifice did not lessen His worth. The Son manifested His love of the Father by becoming incarnate to reveal the Father, and the Spirit came to reveal the Son, not Himself. The Son and Spirit’s seeking the interests of another does not imply that They are less worthy than the One They reveal.

Love demonstrates rather than diminishes the lover’s worth. Paradoxically, the lover, as he considers the other more significant, becomes more significant to his beloved. God’s love for us does not make us feel more important than God but rather magnifies God’s greatness. His love also helps us see our worth. Thus, placing the other before the self manifests both the worth of the lover and of the beloved.

Since God is love, self-conceit is impossible within the Godhead. Because each person of the Trinity perfectly loves the others, other-centeredness is at the core of the nature of the Trinity, which is why the Trinity has perfect unity. God calls us, as His image bearers, to be other-centered. He calls us to love Him and our neighbor by laying down our lives for Him and for our neighbor (Luke 9:24; John 15:12–13; 1 John 3:16). Our neighbors includes those unlike us and “our enemies” (Rom. 5:6–8), whose views and values we find problematic or even unacceptable. God commands the wife to submit to her husband and the husband to lay down his life for his wife (Eph. 5:22–28), for love, via submission or self-sacrifice, places the other before the self without devaluing the lover.

We see love in Moses’ and Paul’s desire to be cut off for their brothers’ sake (Ex. 32:31–32; Rom. 9:1–3) and, ultimately, in Christ, who was cut off for our sake. When love reigns, it engenders unity (John 17:20–26; Eph. 5:28–32)—the lover so intimately identifies himself with his beloved that the beloved and lover become one, sharing joys and sorrows.

Revelation through the Spirit

Spiritual Truths for the Spiritual

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From the January 2021 Issue
Jan 2021 Issue