Last week the Lord put it on my heart that I am to thank Him for His saving grace that I do not deserve, while I pray for people in my life who don’t seem to “love without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; [and] cling to what is good.” The angry world needs our prayers, not our opinions of their behavior. And I’m sure that like me, everyone has been one of those people at one time or another.
After Paul wrote that our love for each other must be sincere or genuine, he further defines that genuine love as a kind of devotion to a sibling. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Rom 12:10). We must love each other with a brotherly affection. The Greek word used here inspired the name of a city in the United State: Philadelphia, self-described as the city of brotherly love.
Those in Christ are truly brothers and sisters. God adopts us as His children, welcoming us into His family. That family includes everyone who knows God as Father. Brothers and sisters, of course, don’t always get along. In most families, however, they share a loyalty and sense of belonging that surpasses most normal friendships. Elsewhere, we are admonished to “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1), which is a sacrifice pleasing to God.
Paul’s second command in this verse urges us to compete, in a sense. In the ESV, we’re told to “Outdo one another in showing honor”. If each of us acted on this, every person in the body of Christ would always feel deeply honored by others, and would never be satisfied that we are honoring one another enough. We would be motivated to continue asking, “How can I show more honor than he showed to me”?
This behavior is the antithesis of worldliness, where we puff ourselves up and put others down. This behavior acts out another Scripture: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3) Genuinely loving and being devoted to one another, is truly allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our mind from worldliness and renew it in godliness (Rom 12:2). As I go through my day I will look for ways to outdo others in showing them honor and genuine brotherly love. It’s time that I “lift up [my] eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35).