Saturday, April 18, 2015

Honor One Another

I'm a bit of a Sci-fi geek. It's not that I go to parties dressed like a Klingon (though I admit part of me thinks that's awesome), but I do enjoy watching a good science fiction movie or TV show now and again. One of the more 'mainstream' Sci-fi characters that I enjoy is Yoda from Star Wars. Of course, hardcore Sci-fiers are now rolling their eyes that I mentioned Star Wars, but like I said, I'm only a "bit" of a Sci-fi geek.

The thing with Yoda is how he speaks. "Powerful you have become!" "Patience you must have!" "Impossible to see the future is!" Not only does he have a knack for using as few words as possible, but he always arranges his sentences in a non-typical way. Because of this, his words have a 'punch'.

In Romans 12:10b Paul tells us to "honor one another above yourselves". Now, that's very clear in English, but in Greek its even punchier. In fact, Paul only uses three words. Literally translated, he says "honor one-another outdo". Paul is actually using proper Greek grammar, but when we translate it literally he comes off sounding a little bit like Yoda. 

The first word he uses is honor. To honor something means to put value on something, to consider it precious, weighty, and worthy of respect. Now, I admit the engagement ring I bought my wife is nothing to brag about. Sure, it was worth 2 months of my salary, but I also was an unemployed college student at the time. Nevertheless, to my wife it is something precious. The rest of the world might not see its true value, but my wife does. It's not that the diamond ring is valuable in and of itself, but it is valuable to her because she chooses to see it that way.

When we interact with other believers, we are to see them through Christ's eyes. Sure, the rest of the world can readily see their faults. Maybe they are prideful or prone to anger. Maybe they have offensive personality traits. Or perhaps they gossip, or use crude language, or have judgmental attitudes. If your a congregant, maybe you think your pastor is boring or that he should be doing a better job. If your a pastor, maybe you think a particular congregant is a curmudgeon who only causes trouble. But frankly, how you see someone isn't the point. The point is how Christ views them. Do you see other believers as individuals for whom Christ died? Do you see them as people that Christ longs to be with? 

The second word is one-another. When I used to live in Arkansas we had a phrase that perfectly fits this meaning: "all ya'all". When a Southerner says "all ya'all", he is including everybody in the room. One cannot praise God for everyone except the pastor, or everyone except that one congregant who annoys you, because "one another" means no one is allowed to be left out. There is also something reciprocal about the word 'one-another'. I honor you, you honor me.   It speaks of a relationship that goes both ways. A local church is to be a place where acceptance and love, not criticism and condemnation, is the rule. It is to be a place where individuals can freely share their struggles and faults, without fear of being judged or rejected. To my shame, I've been on the side that has done the judging and criticizing. To my sorrow, I've been on the side that was judged and rejected.

The last word, outdo, is where things get really interesting.  The basic sense of the word is that we should show the way, or lead the way, or be the first in conferring honor on others. Within the Christian faith, there is no room sitting back and waiting for other to come. Tragically, I see this all the time as a pastor. When I discover tension between two people, I urge them to go to the other. Often I hear one or both people say "well, they know where I am!" That is the perspective of a pagan, not of one who has found light and life in Jesus Christ. But this principle is also to operate when there is no tension. The church should be a place where believers are tripping over themselves to affirm each other, praise God for each other, and acknowledge the budding talents found in those around them. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "the tongue has the power of life and death". It can build unity, or it can destroy it. This is why a critical and judgmental spirit is the death knell of a local church, because it is the exact opposite of what God commands. Nothing kills joy, unity, and vitality as quickly as a complaining tongue. And few thing build a church quicker than a Christ-centered believer who uses his tongue to encourage.

Find a local church where people genuinely care about and are thankful for one another. Better yet, do whatever it takes to turn your church into such a place. Become an encourager. Confront criticism. If someone messes something up, give them a hug and tell them how thankful you are for them. Go to an older believer and tell them how important they have been to your spiritual growth. Come alongside a younger believer and tell them they are valuable and important to you.

Imagine what a church full of such people could do for the Kingdom!

1 comment:

  1. Good translation is very important for the Christian to practice the faith properly. Otherwise we may get a watered-diluted attitude how a Christian should behave. That nice Yoda style Greek work " Outdo" is very important. It show me, TAKE THE FIRST STEP... style of life. Don't wait but move etc. It give a progressive of forwarding style of life. Boy this is a true eye opening for me.

    Thanks for the message.