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Romans 12: 10

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.

Can you imagine a pastor standing up in front of the congregation and delivering this message today? It just doesn’t sound like a modern message to me. I wonder how well it would go over. Brotherly love isn’t something we discuss frequently and I don’t think I have heard many, if any, sermons on showing preference to one another. I am not being critical. I am just saying that this might not be the way we think and dialogue these days.

You know, this really is a tough scripture when you think about it. We live in the “Me” generation and are working on getting our own needs met. Then we move into getting all of our desires met above and beyond all that we can think or ask. That’s Bible, it’s scriptural so how do we reconcile this passage with all the teaching on God wanting to bless us supernaturally?

I think the reconciliation is in our “getting”. When our eyes are on others and we are putting their needs ahead of ours then we are in the will of God. We don’t strive in order to get. That is the key. We allow God to be the giver rather that for us to labor in the getting. But this goes way, way beyond money and things. This is about humility in human relationships. 

When you are in a body of believers who all subscribe to this philosophy it really can be heaven on earth. The difficulty comes when you are constantly forced to interact with those who are not only carnally minded but self-minded. They are always seeking to fill their own desires so the human inside of us feels compelled to push back some. These self-oriented people may make you feel like they will swallow you whole. Therefore, your internal man attempts to defend itself. Don’t we wish we just didn’t have to be around them. Their dialogue is always about what they want and they really don’t care what anyone else wants. I can appreciate that if you have some of those people in your life it can be very taxing. It may be too obvious if you send them today’s Word of the Day.

Here is what we have to do. We must begin to pray for them. Notice I didn’t say about them. Praying “about” people means we are praying our agenda. Praying for them allows God to apply His will. Clearly the love of God is not perfected in any of us yet. Their self-centeredness is the revelation of their heart that they have not received the love of God. They do not yet have a inward revelation of God’s love for them personally. They may intellectually know that God loves them but the tape in their head of their unworthiness is probably playing louder. It is our unworthiness, though, that makes the love of God so profound. Once we accept our unworthiness and reconcile ourselves to that truth then we are finally free to receive the unmerited love and favor of God. Then we humbly give to others and make preference for them with honor because we know at such a personal level how Yahweh and Jesus have done the same for us. This is called “loving the unlovely” and it is really hard because your natural person resurrects its ugly self. However, the more we can receive the truth about the love the Father has for us, the more we will be able to make others needs and wants a higher priority than ours. I don’t say it is easy but if we can all make a little shift in that direction, then all will be better and easier.

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