April 7, 2011
“Give preference to one another in honor;”
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Throughout Romans 12, Paul has described how the individual saints must act and interact with other believers in the Body of Christ. God desires for each of us to live as sacrifices to Him, laying aside our lives so that He might live through us each day. Within that context, Paul helps us understand how the members of the Body of Christ use their spiritual gifts to God’s glory, and how I must appraise the other saints around me.
Give preference. In Romans 12:10, Paul commanded each believer to give preference (“προηγούμενοι“) to the other saints in the Body of Christ. The construction here may mean that we should try to outdo one another in showing respect for other believers. Another meaning commands believers to esteem and prefer other saints more highly than yourself (Philippians 2:3–“regard one another as more important that yourselves”). In actual practice, you will not seek to exercise your gifts at the expense of other believers, but will carefully use your spiritual gifts in harmony with other believers. You will be careful not to step upon other believers and their spiritual activities.
In honor. Paul now links up this idea of giving preference to the other saints with the concept of according “honor” (“τῇ τιμῇ“). Paul essentially says in honor put the interests of other saints in front of your own interests. Consider 1 Corinthians 12:23. Paul there commands all believers to honor all believers in another context of spiritual gifts. In fact, he shows that the Body of Christ bestows more abundant honor on the members deemed less honorable. In Christ, Jesus loves all of His children, and we take steps, following His leading, to honor every member of the Body of Christ by the ways we love them, treat them, and encourage them to use their spiritual gifts to the honor and glory of God.
One way you can tell how you are doing on giving honor and preference to another is to take an inventory for one day of how often you talk in groups, and how often you give other people orders. If I am talking more than my friends, why I am I doing that? Do they have nothing interesting to say? I enjoy this exercise when I find myself subtly telling my friends to “roll up the window,” or interrupting them, or telling them to “wait a minute,” or show up late for a meeting. Do other people always have to fit your schedule, or do you agree upon times and places and be there on time? In the spiritual context, saints tend to devalue some gifts and their ministry, while exalting others. We need to be sure that we bestow more abundant honor on each member of the Body of Christ.
So we learn that we must give preference to another in honor.
● You have a spiritual duty to prefer one another in Christ, and to step back so that others may step forward.
● We have a spiritual duty to honor other saints in the Body of Christ, particularly when it comes to using our spiritual gifts.
● We hinder spiritual unity when we put ourselves on top of the list or at the front of every line, preferring to exalt ourselves, instead of promoting the gifts of the members we deem less honorable and bestowing more abundant honor on them.
Application for Today
Today, I want to prefer my spiritual friends in honor. I want to see them honored in the use of their spiritual gifts, and in the way they live before Jesus. Who will you prefer in honor today?