16b Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Having commanded Christians to “Be of the same mind one toward another”, the apostle Paul then further advises them on how to maintain such a harmonious co-existence with fellow Christians. According to this apostolic advice, the Christian unity within the church is largely dependent on how each would think of himself in relation to others.
Hence Christians are told: “Mind not high things”. In other words, no Christian should be thinking of high things for himself. Seeking or aspiring honour, rank, wealth, company of wealthy men, etc. would lead to self-aggrandisement at the expense of others. Being too ambitious prevents one from accepting humble positions and tasks for the glory of God and for the betterment of others. Being high-minded or snobbish prevents one from stooping down to serve ordinary people or those who are of low degree. Thinking too highly of oneself can lead one to despise others and even to engage in “smear campaigns” to damage others’ reputations.
Every Christian ought to be humble and not try to grasp things which are out of his reach, or too high for him, or beyond his capacity. In order to serve everyone equally, he has to get off his “high horse” and get low to attend to their needs. We are also advised to “condescend to men of low estate”. We must not disdain to take notice of, or greet, or commune with, men of lowly (temporal or spiritual) condition. We must make special efforts to humbly mingle with the lowly.
Moreover, we are also warned to “be not wise in your own conceits”. No one should conduct himself as though he has all the wisdom while others have none. It is ungodly to think of oneself as socially and intellectually superior to others. Such an one is not so in the eyes of God and others. Self-conceit is often attended with bad consequences. It spoils a man’s usefulness and prevents his improvement in knowledge. It induces him to reject wise counsels given to him and to treat fellow Christians contemptuously, eventually bringing shame and pain upon himself. Proverbs 3:7 warns us, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Likewise, Isaiah 5:21 cautions: “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” So, let us avoid being wise in our own minds.