Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.
Her words have stayed with me for all of my adult life. I was 18 years old. As a second-time guest at a Bible study, the youth pastor’s wife introduced me to several other kids by saying, “This is Don – he is a really neat guy – you need to get to know him!”
Me? A “really neat guy”?
What she did was esteem me before others. She expressed a value for me that I did not even possess for myself. By introducing me to others as a valuable, worthy person, she used the occasion as an opportunity to exercise love.
She determined my worth and value by the way she talked about me. This is the essence of the word “honor.”
Most of us in the church family are more conscious of our personal “ugliness” than anyone will ever know. We beat ourselves up and often come to church beaten by the world. Should church be a place that adds to our sense of failure and insecurity?
Of course not! Honor someone with value and affirmation today. A kind word and a smile. A hug and a warm embrace. A note or a quick phone call. Any soul Jesus died for was a soul of eternal worth and value to Him. We are not flattering people: we are establishing their true worth in the sight of God.
Why should we value others any less than He did?
Romans 14:19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
I use to have a penny jar at home… not any more. Let me tell you what happened. Day by day I used to empty my pocket change into my penny jar, but as my kids got older, I noticed the level of saved change began going down! While I was adding to the jar regularly, someone else (I will not name names) was taking my contributions away — the result? No more change for emergency Big Mac attacks!
That really captures what Paul is dealing with in Romans 14. God is building a bride for His Son and we are very much a part of the process. In the church we are called to “edify” or build each other up — not to tear each other down. The way we speak to each other and the way we treat each other adds to what God is doing or detracts from it.
So pretend the church today is like a great, big penny jar for God. Every day He adds to our lives as we read His Word and spend time alone with Him in prayer. With a deep affection, He encourages us, guides us, corrects us — whatever it takes to build us up into a mature, godly lover of Jesus Christ. The level in the penny jar is raised daily as we walk with Him.
And as we come to interact with other members of His family, He intends that the building continue. But does it? Or do we take away from what God is doing in others? In every conversation I have a decision to make: will I add to this person’s life or not? Worse yet: am I going to pilfer what God has stored up in this person? Sound like an odd concept? Consider the range of decisions we can consciously make when we encounter a brother or sister in Christ. Some quick examples…
- In general conversation: am I going to speak about my needs or focus on encouraging someone else?
- When I hear of a brother’s failure or weakness: am I going to spread damaging information about him or be graciously silent?
- When we disagree: am I going to argue my position or listen to your heart?
Every member of my family needs my contribution to his or her life. God made us that way — and I need your contribution too!
Let’s stop pilfering from the “penny jar of God” in the hearts of others. Let’s start emptying pockets of kindness into each other’s lives. Let’s do it today!