“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10
This may be the only competitive verse in the Bible. Paul is calling us to outdo one another. Unlike the competitive nature of the world, as in politics or the boardroom, Paul’s charge is to outdo one another in building up, not tearing down. This is a call to recognize in another person that which is worthy of commendation, that is worthy of honor.
It is not flattery. The world loves flattery – I say something nice to you, about you, so that you will say something nice to me, about me. Flattery is self-serving. Honoring is Christ-focused.
To honor another person is more than recognizing their efforts, as honorable as they may be. Honoring someone is looking at the work of the Holy Spirit in that person. It is honoring the Lord for what he has done, or is doing, through one of his children. That’s why it can be competitive: it is boasting in the Lord. We should outdo one another in honoring what the Lord is doing through us.
Are we a people known for encouragement? Do we look beyond ourselves to others, honoring one another?
We look for good words said about us, but too often fail to say good words about others. To honor one another is the Christian’s rebellion against the status quo of the cynical world. It is our war cry of grace into the misery of strife and accusation.
To be a Christian is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That means that within us is the most honorable person in the universe. He is working in us and through us. He is accomplishing his work through weak sinners like you and me. He is advancing the gospel. He is saving the world. He is rescuing people out of darkness. He is bringing people into the light. Christians who are open to him are honorable people because they are allowing the Lord to do his work through them.
So outdo one another in showing honor. Recognize the work of the Lord in someone else. Most likely, they have no idea that God is doing anything through them. They feel weak and sinful, and they are, but they are also strong and glorious in Christ. Call that out in them for the glory of God and the building up of his church.
Outdo one another in showing honor.