Outdo Each Other
You’re competing. Whether it be on a team, for a class rank, for a job, or for attention; we’re all engrossed in the competition of life. There are competitions for everything! Who can eat the most hot dogs in 10 minutes? Who can lose the most weight? Who is smarter than a 5th grader? Who can beat a chicken in tic-tac-toe?When we compete, our focus always seems to be on ourselves. We desire to be on top. The best...at least for a moment. Sometimes our motivations are destructive and damaging, sometimes they’re inspirational and productive, yet they’re almost always exclusively about us.Even the Bible commands us to be in competition with each other! God doesn’t just talk about competition, He commands it. Wait until you read this!“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10bIt seems like a paradox doesn’t it? It flies in the face of our competitive nature and culture. We are called to outdo each other, not for our own benefit, but in showing honor to others! Take a second and think about how this would play out in your life. How would it affect your relationships, your work, your campus, your church, etc. if you, and those around you, were working to outdo each other in showing honor? It would change the world wouldn’t it?!I know. I know there are a lot of people who aren’t worthy of honor. People do some egregiously dishonorable things in this world. Therein lies the challenge: to treat someone in a way that makes them worthy of your service, even if they don’t deserve it. This verse is in the context of God calling us to be living sacrifices (12:1), not as an empty, hollow command, but because He Himself set the example. Jesus emptied Himself of His glory (Phil 2:7) and came to die for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). He washed the feet of all the disciples even though one of them was Judas (John 13:1-17)! We are dishonorable. We are not worthy of that kind of sacrifice, and yet one day, those of us who place our faith in the life, death and resurrection of Christ will be honored as pure and holy children of God...not because we deserve it, but because Christ was willing to sacrifice His own life for ours. He outdid us all in showing honor: all of us, who could never be honorable on our own.John Piper, in his excellent sermon on this verse, lays out some practical steps to take in order to accept the challenge of outdoing each other in showing honor:
- Know God commands it
- Know outdoing each other in showing honor is part of your new nature in Christ and doing so is becoming more of who you are
- Admit that, apart from Christ, you can’t do it
- Pray earnestly that God will make you the kind of person who shows honor
One quick story before the end of this post. During the 18th century, John Wesley and George Whitefield were both church leaders and gifted evangelists. However, they had deep theological differences concerning perfection and predestination (those conversations are always lively debates aren’t they?!). Someone once interviewed Wesley about Whitefield. Here’s how it went down. “Do you think we shall see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?” Asked one small-minded disciple. “No.” Replied Wesley, and the man looked pleased that he had aimed his flattery well. “No, sir,” said Wesley, “I fear not. Mr. Whitefield will be so near the throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get a sight of him.” [source] If we long to see our world change, we would do well to follow the example of these men. Through the power that only God can give, let’s engage in this new (yet old) type of competition. May we outdo each other in showing honor.