This is the second half of verse 10 which we looked at last time. To Paul, loving with mutual (brotherly) love involves showing honor to one another. In looking up this verse I discovered that the Greek translated ‘outdo’ is more closely translated as ‘to lead before’. In other words, as the NIV translation says we should “Honor one another above yourselves,” and further as the NLT notes we should “take delight in honoring each other.”
This verse is tied to Philippians 2:3 where Paul admonishes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” St. Peter takes it a step further. Honor should be not just those in the church. He says “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, [even] honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)
Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible says that this verse calls us to “go before each other in giving honor, and showing respect…set each other an example…not waiting until respect is shown on one side to return it again.” This suggests that we should LOOK for ways to honor and appreciate and recognize the good in one another…maybe esp. those we wouldn’t normally consider as having something ‘worth’ honor. The homeless man who gives the sack lunch he just got to a young mother. A co-worker who demands things from other staff, is perhaps the same person who spends extra time in the nursing home. The clerk at the store who goes the extra step to make sure you have what you need.
Faith Church Blog notes, “It’s like Paul is saying, “The only competition that should be among Christians is a competition of honoring others.”…[as] the genuine expression of your heart – to honor others more than yourself, think of others more than yourself…when we look at others, in shouldn’t be in comparison of pride or self-pity, it should be always looking at others and celebrating grace in them, seeing the graces that are coming out of them, and honoring them for it.” The lbog author notes “We live in a sarcastic and cynical culture. Honoring doesn’t come naturally to us. Honoring is not a natural part of our speech patterns. And for that reason, I like the analogy of competition – that we need to “outdo one another in showing honor”. We need to go overboard in appreciation and praise.”
The word namaste is used as a greeting in India and South Asia as a greeting and farewell. It is translated, "I bow to the divine in you." That is what showing honor is all about. It is acknowledging that each of us is filled with the Divine. Other cultures have similar greetings: Aloha (Hawaii), Wai (Thai), Vaya con Dios (Spain). It is all about recognizing that we are Beloved of God and should recognize that in one another. I hope I can work at looking more for the Divine in those I meet and offering them honor and namaste (or Aloha, Wai, Vaya con Dios).
Paul doesn’t stop there, he goes on with more guidelines for living a Christ-like life. They are all ways to live out the genuine, mutual love and honor that he talks about in the first 2 verses. We’ll look at the rest of the passage over the next few weeks.
Let love be genuine (sincere, honest); hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection (brotherly love); outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are