It’s hard for me to imagine God as being competitive. Nor do I find my own competitive urges to be very much in line with the call to love and serve other people. Quite to the contrary, competition lends itself more toward pride and ambition than it does humility and sacrifice.
Yet there is one clear instance in scripture where disciples of Christ are encouraged to be competitive. At least you could say Paul had no problem urging this attitude upon the saints in Rome. Sandwiched between a row of practical exhorations which include commands to “let love be genuine,” “abhor what is evil,” and “rejoice in hope,” Paul also admonishes the disciples to
Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10, ESV)
Outdo one another, he says. Other translations say to “honor one another above yourselves.” Either way what Paul is saying is this: Go for the gold when it comes to raising other brothers and sisters up higher than yourself. See who can do it the most, the best. Strive to be number one in this arena. Don’t let anybody show more honor toward you than you show toward them.
Now that’s the kind of competition we all could use more of! How often do you see Christians engaging in this kind of holy rivalry?
A few chapters later Paul would introduce Phoebe-his letter-bearer-to his friends in Rome. “Welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints,” he instructs (Rom. 16:1). His expectation of those who shared in Christ was for a warmth of hospitality and fellowship that surpassed anything the world had to offer among its own. The special fraternity of the early churches most definitely comes into view in these passages.
So we might imagine the disciples in Rome vying with one another over who would get to be the one to give up their bed for Phoebe to sleep on during her stay. Perhaps there was wine and a meal brought out by Priscilla right there on the spot in celebration of her arrival. Who knows? All we can assume is that Paul expected them to lay out a welcome that was “worthy of the holy ones.”
It’s a tremendous thought really, and one which I dare say we don’t give enough time to. In all our one-anothering let us not overlook this simple fragment from Romans 12. “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Make this an exercise today. Find a brother who is cast down or a sister who needs encouragement. Lavish them with honor. Be creative about it. Then come back to this blog and leave a comment about the results. What did your special treatment mean to them? What effect did it have even on yourself?
This is a blog post in a Chain Blog started by Alan Knox. Read on to learn about the other links in the chain, and to find out how you can participate in this chain blog.
Links in the ‘One Another’ Chain Blog
- Chain Blog: One Another – Alan Knox
- Linking One Another – Swanny
- What Does It Mean to Love One Another? – Chuck McKnight
- The treasure of ‘One Another’ – Jim Puntney
- This is how the world shall recognise you… – Kathleen Ward
- Accepting one another in love – Chris Jefferies
- One Another: A meta-narrative for the church – Part One and Part Two by Greg Gamble
- Individualism and “One Another” – Pieter Pretorius
- All Alone with One Another – by Jeremy Myers
- When it’s OK for Christians to compete – Joshua Lawson
- Who will write the 11th link post in the chain?
Chain Blog Rules
- If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
- Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain.” Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog (both this post and the other link posts in the chain).
- When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of the previous post to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.