It is interesting that some of the terminology used by writers in the bible would lead us to think that Christianity is a competition. It sounds in some places as if we are all competing in some way.
This is especially true when Paul says in places about “running the race set before us” and it is “only those who run according to the rules will receive the prize” and similar messages.
But in truth it isn't a competition. I say this because if you mis-read this particular verse it could make you think it is a competition. The verse reads as follows and it is the last section that could mislead.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
The key to this section begins in the first few words. What is important in this message is the message of love, specifically the brotherly love that should exist between brothers and sisters in the church.
When we show the love of the brethren it is not a competitive love but a supportive love.
Brotherly love supports our brethren and helps those who are down so that those who need help are lifted up.
Paul is first and foremost entreating us here to support one another in love. This is not the love as depicted in modern movies, TV shows and books, but the friendship and support of those who are our brothers and sisters in the family of God.
This brotherly love is the key to this verse an needs to be remembered when looking at the rest of the verse.
So when Paul says to “Outdo one another in showing honour,” it is not a competition. What he is talking about is the essence of humility which is essential if we are to love one another with brotherly affection.
Humility does not lord it over others but counts others as better than ourselves. Humility puts the needs of others ahead of our own needs to ensure that our brothers and sisters are supported in their times of need.
And in doing this we will be doing what Paul describes as outdoing one another in showing honour to our brothers and sisters.
We are called to seek out those things that are honorable and think about those things in Philippians 4. So if we can find what is honorable in the lives and actions of our brethren and honour them as brothers and sisters and especially as servants of the Lord we will be doing as Paul indicated.
And it isn't a competition to see who can show more honour than someone else. It is a matter of humility and recognition of those who are living in the ways of the Lord, learning from them and seeing how we can apply these lessons to our own lives. It is about finding what is good in all situations and lifting up what is good rather than fault finding.
We honour them by finding the good and helping through the bad so that all of us are built up and encouraged in the Lord.
The only competition that is going on is in the fight against evil, the war on the passions of the flesh that lead to sinfulness and the battle to turn from the ways of the world and walk in the straight and narrow paths of the Lord. We are not competing against each other as Christians. We are supporting, encouraging, lifting and honoring one another as is right and acceptable in the a Lord.
(Image sourced from freeimages.com with reference to artist's site at www.presentation-process.com)
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