Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
— Philippians 2:3
People who are filled with vain conceit pretend that they are better, stronger, and more capable than they really are. This applies to anyone who thinks they have made it on their own, without the help of God or other people or opportunities.
When I think of conceited people I have known, they are not usually those who have had to work the hardest or who have had to climb very far up the social ladder. Ironically, conceited people are often those who have done very little for themselves while benefiting from lots of privileges and opportunities.
Whom would you rather follow? Someone who realizes that other people and circumstances have helped them gain success in their lives—such as supportive parents, teachers, mentors, friends, and coworkers, as well as opportunities for education, training, and work experience? Or would you follow someone who thinks they have gained success entirely on their own?
Jesus was the opposite of vain. All of the glory and majesty of God were his, and yet he came to live and serve among us in a humble way that would cause people to find his glory in the kind of person he was and the kinds of things he did. He gloried not in himself but in building others up. If we want to be truly successful, we ought to have the mindset of Jesus.
Jesus, the truth about you came through in the way you lived among us. Help us not to be selfish or vain but instead to be like you. Amen.