Be the Best

We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. – Romans 12:4-5 (CEB)

Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. – Romans 12:9-10 (CEB)

When a young man came to Jesus asking how he could earn eternal life, Jesus concluded with, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.” As the man walked away, Jesus turned to his disciples to continue his teaching on the narrow way. The disciples were stunned, and asked “Who then can be saved?”[1]

I am equally stunned as I read Romans 12. Paul’s description of how we are to live as believers and a community of faith seems just as difficult. One of the verses I often come back to in living my life is “Be the best at showing honor to each other.”

Be the best — not only are we to honor others, but we are to lead the way. Another translation says, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”[2] Paul uses the word for “honor” five times in Romans. The first two times link how we seek to honor others, to how God will honor us. We say something similar in the Lord’s Prayer: forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. - Romans 12:9-10 (CEB) #Love #Honor #Jesus Click To Tweet

Honor isn’t about platitudes and false compliments; it’s about dignity. And like all other important and difficult things, it begins with us. If we don’t love ourselves or accept God’s love for us, how can we love one another? If we are not patient with ourselves, where will we find the ability to be patient with others? If we don’t have hope, what do we really have to offer the world?

In a world that has grown increasingly polarized and hate-filled, it’s not surprising the electoral process has gone the same way. It’s not surprising that dignity seems to be missing. Right now, we don’t see much of anyone being the best at honoring each other. And we know, the results of today’s elections will not suddenly create an overflow of outdoing one another in showing honor. But global change doesn’t happen all at once.

For that, we return to the beginning of Romans 12. Before we can do any of the difficult and beautiful things that define the community of faith, we need to begin with ourselves. It is our decision to turn our lives into an offering to God; to not be conformed to the world but allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us. It is our responsibility to not think too highly of ourselves, forgetting that the gifts of faith are to be shared.

Forgetting that we belong to one another.

It is only then that we can love without pretending, honor others, show generosity, bless those who curse us, be empathetic to others, or turn the other cheek. Individually, we make the decision to be enthusiastic in our hope, stand our ground when we’re in trouble, and devote ourselves to prayer — but we can only live into this if we do it together. Together, we can be the change we want to see.

None of this is dependent on who wins an election. Yes, government has an important role in our communal lives, in the country, in the world. But change begins with the heart, our heart. And our hearts are not dependent on red or blue but on Jesus Christ who saves us. The world is not dependent on red or blue but on what we do with the truth of Christ’s grace.

 

Dear Jesus, we know that we still wait for your fullness to revealed to us and in us. But in our waiting, we do not fear, for you are with us in the midst of it.

When we think the worst and feel that division will never end, we claim our hope in you.
May we trust in your promises.
When we become anxious about how long it may take to receive or finalize the election results, we receive our peace in you.
May it penetrate the depth of our souls.
When we feel dread about what new suffering the news of the day will bring, we seek our joy in you.
May it be our strength.
When it seems as though the days only grow darker and our feelings of isolation grow, we are loved by you.
May we receive it and offer it generously to others

May we both rest and rejoice in these good gifts.
May we trust in your power and sovereignty.
May we believe the Good News regardless of the news headlines around us.

With one foot in your Kingdom, we pray to you, O Lord, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer: do not let us be defeated by evil, but to defeat evil with good. With our other foot in this world, we pray that our leaders would be led by your wisdom and compassion, outdoing one another in showing honor. Amen.

 

[1] Matthew 19:16-26 (NRSV)

[2] Romans 12:10 (NRSV)

Related posts

One Thought to “Be the Best”

  1. Jeanne Musolf

    Timely & Beautiful, Michelle.
    Thankyou

Leave a Reply to Jeanne Musolf Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.