HonorReading the other day a familiar passage in a new translation (ESV) and came across this section in Romans chapter 12: 9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I found out that the word "Outdo" has a definition of: to go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader. Our English use of the word suggests a competitive spirit. The New Testament use of the word presents to us the idea that in showing honor (value) for another, we must each take the lead.
Most of us enjoy it when a person is honored for an achievement that is earned. We congratulate the graduate for his academic achievement. We applaud the sports hero for feats of athletic excellence. We celebrate a birthday with enthusiasm and delight.
Perhaps in showing honor, we should consider that while we enjoy it when we are honored or when someone honors another, it takes work to honor someone. I believe Paul is exhorting believers to work hard at declaring how valuable each other is. Look at the paragraph in which this exhortation is found. It is full of imperatives that direct us to avtively involve ourselves in the lives of others. Paul lived in a day in which believers were persecuted for their faith. In that first century culture, if Christians did not look out for one another, no one else would. Not much has changed from that day until now. The nature of our society demands that believers work hard at taking the lead in honoring one another.
1. Take the lead in honoring a pastor, teacher or other Christian worker. Most of these people do not receive recognition for the value they provide to your life. Consider what your life would be like without their input, their care or their sacrifice. Determine how that person understands honor and take the lead in honoring. Some respond to public displays, some to private, some to personal. Some respond to gifts, some to cards and notes and some to shared experiences "let's go fishing", etc. In all of the activity though, be sure to include at least a paragraph of description that outlines the value you place on that person's life.
2. Take the lead in honoring a child. I have tried to make it a point to take my children out for breakfast on their birthday, if they are anywhere near. During that time I try to make it clear that they are people of value and that I consider them honorable.
3. Take the lead in honoring a spouse. Most of us enjoy it when our spouse honors us. Take practical steps to honor, show value, display worth. Recently I was amazed at how honored my wife felt when I took it upon myself to do some things for her that she needed to have done for a while. Checking those things off of the to-do list made her feel that I was paying attention to her and seeking to show her value by investing my time and skill in doing something she could not do for herself.
4. As a practical extension, believers must be people who are always looking for people to honor. According to Paul's exhortation, we should become a people who are taking the lead in our church, our community, our neighborhood, our school, our Scout troop and our nation in showing honor to those to whom honor is due.
Remember that when Paul declared the necessity of showing honor to the king in Romans 13, this would turn out to be the king that would eventually take his life. In that case, Paul would have refered to the honor that the king displayed as being the one whom God had placed in control in order to accomplish for God what only he could do.
Such a perspective will change our homes, our churches, our schools and all relationships when applied. Take the lead in showing honor.