But Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In many ways the phrase in bold in in our passage this morning is very similar to the one which precedes it on which we commented on Wednesday but we need to remember that the Holy Spirit does not waste words so what may seem like repetition is there for our benefit.
There is of course a distinction between being ‘devoted’ and ‘honouring’ and that is what we will explore briefly today. The ESV translates the phrase as ‘Outdo one another in showing honour.’ and taking both together we are presented with a very high bar in this area. As noted on Wednesday we have an inbuilt inclination to elevate ourselves so we love to be in the limelight, to be the award winner, to be honoured but as we saw so dramatically in the account of Haman in the book of Esther such longing can be turned back on us very easily.
Jesus spoke very directly to this theme recorded in Luke 14.10
But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at table with you.
And in Matthew 7.12
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
and God speaking to Eli says
Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me for ever’, but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Solemn words indeed which set what it means to honour God, in the starkest way.
To honour God, to honour one another is to recognise their worth and act accordingly towards them.
God is self-evidently worthy of all honour and as our fellow men and women are made in the image of God Paul’s call for us to honour one another must be taken seriously.
How well do we honour each other? Do we look for the good? Do we encourage? Do we thank God for what we see of his working in the lives of others and do we tell them?
Challenging questions which we need to address if we are to be Christ-like.