“Outdo one another in showing honor” Romans 12:10b
Merriam-Webster defines honor as “a good name or public esteem; a showing of usually merited respect; archaic a gesture of deference.”
The concept of honor is not something that most modern Americans think of regularly. But it is not lost to us. When someone is held in honor, they are respected and thought highly of. They are seen as valuable and worthy of respect. This is usually, as the dictionary points out, because of something they have done or because they merit it in some way.
Honor is incredibly important in many cultures around the world. If you love Asian culture like me you may be familiar with movies like Mulan or the hundreds of samurai movies out there. These often revolve around the idea of honor. In Mulan a young woman risks her life for the honor of her family. Going to war and impersonating a soldier to prevent her father from dying, or worse, admitting his inability to serve the army which would bring ultimate dishonor upon their family name.
This concept of honor was also incredibly important in the cultural world in which the Bible was written. One of the ten commandments is to honor your father and mother. The book of Proverbs speak in myriad ways about the importance of honor, ways to obtain honor, ways to avoid dishonor, etc. God is to be honored above all. We understand that some deserve honor because of their position or rank or achievements.
But, Christianity is unique among religions in the area of honor. Our founder, our God, our King, our Christ, sought no honor in his earthly life. He socialized with the least honorable people in society. He died the most dishonorable death possible in his cultural context. Crucifixion was a statement to the community that the person dying by it was a shameful individual who not only deserved to die, but deserved to be hated and should be held in disgust and shame.
However, Jesus was vindicated. He was raised from the inglorious, dishonored grave and exalted to the highest place of honor.
“he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “ Phil 2:8-11
We as Christians are called to have the same mindset Jesus had. We are called to consider others as more important than ourselves. (Phil 2:3)
We know that the highest and most honorable person ever to exist humbled himself below everyone and everything in order to pay for our sins and give us new life. So we are called to have the same attitude. We are called to “Outdo do one another in showing honor.”
We should seek to show respect and deference to our fellow believers. We should seek to put their needs and their interests above our own.
Unlike the world which only bestows honor on those who have merited and earned it, we give honor to every member of our household of faith. We show honor to those who have no honor.
I think Paul’s language is interesting. Outdo one another. It’s is almost as if he is saying we should be in a contest to see who can show the most honor to the other. This is completely upside down to the way the world thinks. The world tells us to constantly compete to see who can gain the most honor for ourselves. But that is not the Christian way. We are to seek to show as much honor and respect to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we can.
So this week, think of how you can apply this principle in your daily life.
How can you show honor to your fellow Christians? How can you outdo each other in showing honor?
And remember Christ Jesus died without honor. He died and rose to give honor to those who had none. He died for you and for me. He died for the least and the last, the most wretched of the world to be exalted as fellow heirs of the universe with Him.
Let that encourage you this week to show honor and respect and love to your fellow Christians. Christ died for them too, just as much as for you. They are heirs of the universe too. They’re VIPs of the highest class.