(By Michelle Snippe)
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).
Love one another.
Three easy to understand words but sometimes, oh, so hard to perform. And this isn’t a command that’s given to us just once: a directive that we can skim over and set aside if we’re not feeling particularly loving. No, we are all fully aware that the Bible is laden with verses containing this instruction to love each other at all times and in every circumstance. And this verse even goes so far as to tell us how to love one another: with brotherly affection.
The love and brotherly affection mentioned here are two kinds of love, yet merged together, their implication is a family kind of love, a devoted love, a tender love. It’s an edifying love, a love that builds up and goes the extra mile. It’s also a love that is forbearing and forgiving.
But, as much as I often need a fresh reminder to love my neighbor, it’s the second part of the verse that has caught my attention because, while there are so many verses that tell us to love, interestingly, there are far fewer that contain the mandate to honor one another.
Honor is far different from affection. And, perhaps honoring someone is easier to do as you can honor someone for whom you have little affection. But, Paul is not offering us a choice between the two…an easy way to bypass the love command; he is calling us to manifest both.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
To honor another is to esteem them, to hold them in high regard, to attribute to them value and worth, then treat them accordingly. Each and every believer has been made in the image of God and clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ merits honor. Sadly, there are times when it may seem as if they are undeserving. But our call is to honor them whether we feel they deserve it or not. And, beyond that, the meaning here seems to indicate that we are to lead the way in showing honor…to be an example in showing that honor even to those who don’t merit it. Then Paul takes it to another level. Not only are we to show it, to lead the way in doing so, but we are also instructed to outdo one another in that call! It sounds a bit like a friendly competition, doesn’t it? And, what if Paul meant it to be? Can you imagine how our communities of believers would be impacted if we all accepted the challenge? If we attempted to outdo one another in mutually exchanging honor? To strive to esteem others better than ourselves?
Two seemingly simple commands. Neither is entirely easy to do in our own strength. Yet, both display the power of the Holy Spirit in us and the new nature we have been given.
Dear friends, what glory we would bring to God’s name, and what beauty it would add to the church if we would all endeavor to fulfill this call.
Be blessed today!
(Thanks to Ross Rodgers for the Getty images.)