Romans 12:9-10. Let love be genuine… Outdo one another in showing honor.
Paul’s words here are beautifully ironic.
Win at Honoring.
Be the best at not always having to be the best.
Come in first at coming in second.
Become really good at pointing out the really good that others are doing.
Find your value in finding the value in others.
Agape love will always shine the light on others, not the self. This shouldn’t be hard for us as Christians. First, our model is the greatest display of honor in the universe – the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit always promote the other over the self. The glory of the one depends on the glorification by the other two. And it never falls short. The dance of honor never ends. In God there is no room for ego. No self promotion. Only selfless giving, submission, humility, honor, and admiration.
If we believe that everyone is made in the image and likeness of this Trinitarian God, then everyone deserves respect and honor. Everyone is valuable. To honor another person is to honor God. Further, if we are in Christ (and we are), then to honor another Christian is to honor Christ. If that can’t motivate us well then…
Honor was extremely important in Paul’s day, and it still is of course. Paul uses a word that means “to value.” How do we love genuinely? By valuing each other. And by delighting in valuing each other. Does God value him? Would he do anything for her? Would he delight in doing good for them? Of course he would. Why? Because of the good in us? Nope. Rather, in spite of the bad in us. God honors us because of the Christ in us.
This too is how we must honor each other. Not for physical strength, beauty, or style. Not just for good grades or points scored. Not just for earthly accomplishments or standards met. All of these will fade away. All of us will eventually fail. We honor each other for the sake of Christ. We honor the Jesus within. The Spirit’s work. In Christ we impute honor to those who may not deserve that honor in the flesh. This is why it is genuine love “without hypocrisy.”
This is how people are built up. This is how we move beyond our woundedness? This is how we gain strength. This is how people are restored to emotional health. This is what allows others to move forward in confidence. To grow. To find strength. We are honored. We are affirmed. We are valued. We are loved. God honors us through each other. He affirms us as we affirm each other. Yes, the final proof of God’s genuine love is the cross, but today the manifestation of God’s genuine love (equally important) is our love for each other, our honoring of each other.
Frodo and Samwise honor one another.
And remember, this is not done by seeing ourselves as less than others. Because we are in Christ our identity is set. We think about ourselves with “sober judgment” (12:3-4). This frees you up to promote others and then let Christ promote you as he sees fit.
How much do you think about yourself? How much do you talk about yourself? Do you dominate conversations? Do you fail to really connect to others deeply? Do you genuinely listen to others? Their hopes and dreams? Imagine a community where everyone is practicing this discipline of esteeming others as better than themselves? What could that actually look like.
“To live is Christ” makes this more than just a dream. It can be our reality. Christ honoring you is your reality. He’s doing it right now. He’s loving you genuinely and affirming you by the Spirit. Do you believe this? Can you do this? In Christ you can.
Maybe honoring includes letting someone go free.