It is easy to get into the habit of doing the bare minimum. Today’s verse reminds us to, “Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another” (Romans 12:10 TPT). The Bible is clear: the body of Christ is one big family. We are all on the same team and the end goal is always the same: Love God and love people, and glorify God through loving God and loving people. We were made to bring glory to God. We are commanded to love God and love people.
So here we read in this verse that we are all one big family of believers — despite all the denominations and lack thereof — and we are to be loving each other. None of this should be shocking to you. The verse goes further though. We are to outdo each other in both respect and honor. I am not sure if I should be shocked, puzzled, or simply laugh at the thought. Outdoing someone is going above what is expected — it is more than the bare minimum. Outdoing means we aren’t taking tallies. We aren’t doing exactly what someone else did to reciprocate to ensure we are “even.” Instead, it means we are not concerned with limits. We are pouring ourselves out for others. Jesus demonstrated this for us time and time again.
Now honor is basically valuing something or someone. Respect is regarding someone. We should do this for all people because each person is made in the image of God and created by God Almighty for His glory. This verse specifically mentions fellow believers. It’s not saying we should not love and honor and respect non-believers. We are to love ALL people. God’s Word is telling us to outdo ourselves with respecting and honoring our fellow believers.
Why does this need to be said? You would think we would be treating our fellow Christians much better than those who do not yet know Jesus. We are family, right? However, let us consider how too many “do church.” We gather. We learn about Jesus and His Word. Rather than growing in relationship with Jesus, we grow in our knowledge of His Word. We can easily find ourselves getting proud in our knowledge and wagging a judgmental finger. Get out the Pharisaical robes. We are going to let our fellow believers know what rules are being broken tonight. The outdoing is more of an undoing. We make it less about relationship and more about perfection. We get stingy with the grace and miss the log in our own eyes. We begin to break apart and destroy what God desired for us to care for and love.
In my own life, when I think about the people who have hurt me most and the people who have hurt me more often, the answer will always be the same. It was a fellow believer. It’s not because I locked myself in a church bubble and only know other believers. It’s because the church is too focused on outdoing each other in finger pointing instead of love. It’s because the church desires programs and performance over Jesus in our midst. It’s because the church has everything all mapped out (or boxed in), and life with Jesus is messy.
Friends, I am not trying to point fingers at the church. We are the church… the Church. Let this harsh rebuke (for you and me) that clearly should convict us all, remind us to be a people who invests in people, a people who outdoes with love, with respect, with honor, with grace. Kindness is necessary. Love is everything. Let us show each other how valuable we each are to this world and the next. God made you and me for greater things. There is so much more than this. Encourage your brother and sister as we journey from this mile to the next, and to the one thereafter. Amen!