“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10
Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandment is to love our heavenly Father with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Most of us can wrap our heads around this concept. We have a working knowledge that it was because of His great love for us that Father was moved to give His only Son to be the final sacrifice for our sin.
Jesus died not only to cover our sin, He went to the cross so that we could be reconciled to our Father and have fellowship with Him. Those of us who were far away from God have been brought near to Him. Now we have great communion with God, His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we have been adopted by Him and we are His children. But Jesus also put us in fellowship with one another, and this is where things can start to break down for us. Because the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. But how do we love the brother or sister who seems so unloveable?
Romans 8:29 tells us that Jesus is the firstborn among many brothers. A brother, by definition, is part of a family. So upon His resurrection, He did not become the firstborn of many Lone Rangers, or underdogs, or independent contractors. Jesus became the firstborn among many other brothers and sisters who make up the family of God. Whether we like it or not, our salvation has brought us into family covenant with people who have various capacities to give and receive love. Some of them can love well, but many cannot.
We all have those people in our lives who are really hard to love. Maybe you’ve reached out in love to them but they never seem to reciprocate. Or perhaps they are self-absorbed and only have time for whatever they are into at any given moment. The list goes on and on, but you get the point- some people are just hard to love. So how do we love the problem children in our spiritual family?
First, we have to understand that we are commanded to love them. Just like I can command my children to stop arguing and be nice to one another, Father has commanded us to treat one another with love. Love is both a choice and an attitude. It will help us to love well when we understand that loving our brothers and sisters honors our Father.
When our love comes from a heart that is striving to honor and obey Father, then it will not be contingent on anyone’s ability to receive or acknowledge it.
Secondly, it helps to understand love in terms of honor. We need to understand what it means to honor another human. The Greek word for honor in Romans 12:10 means that we are to value someone at a price that has been fixed. In other words, we don’t honor or love them based on the value that they hold to us, but on the value they hold to our Father. We don’t love anyone because they have earned our love, we love them because of what Christ earned for them.
We honor people for who they are to God and value them at the price He paid for them.
We have to realize that Father values these people so much that He gave His Son’s life for them. Jesus literally paid a fortune in His blood to ransom these people into the Kingdom of Heaven. So it really doesn’t matter whether or not we see any value in them. All we need to know is that they are immeasurably valuable to God and He doesn’t ever want to be without them.
So if we find it hard to love someone, then we need to examine our motives. Are we loving them out of obedience to Father or because we want their approval or attention? Do we withhold our honor from them because we simply don’t give them much value?
These are tough questions to ask, but if we can use them to examine ourselves, I believe that we can shift the source of our love away from our own limited abilities and onto the unlimited and unconditional love of Father’s heart. When our love comes from a desire to honor God and values others with the price that He paid for them, we will walk in obedience to the second greatest commandment. Even with the problem children in our family.
Have a great week!