************ Sermon on Romans 12:10b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 10, 1999
"Honor One Another"
Title: Makes Others Look Good
A couple of weeks ago Newsweek had a cover story about Bill Bradley. Bill Bradley is the former All-American at Princeton, former Rhodes scholar, former pro basketball player with the New York Knicks, and former United States senator from New Jersey. He is now competing with Vice-President Al Gore to be the Democratic nominee for President in next year's general election.
When Bradley was in the NBA his coaches got mad because he kept passing the ball to his team-mates rather than score a basket himself. Though Bradley was the best basketball player on the team, he did not want to hog the lime-light. He tried his best to make his team-mates look good.
What Bill Bradley did for his team-mates, we as Christians are called to do for one another. Jesus tells us this morning that every Christian should work to make other believers "look good." Each of us should rejoice when others achieve, when they are honored, when they are successful.
This morning we continue our study of the "One Another" passages. The "One Another" passages are those passages that deal with our relationship with one another in Christ. As brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus we have a responsibility towards one another. As brother and sisters who believe in Jesus we have a responsibility to do things like: love one another, admonish one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, receive one another, honor one another.
I What We Are Not To Do
A Our text tells us as brothers and sisters in Christ to "honor one another." Let's first look at what we are not to do.
As I said a moment ago, Jesus tells us this morning that every Christian should work to make other believers "look good." Each of us should rejoice when others achieve, when they are honored, when they are successful.
Human nature being what it is, however, most of us are far more concerned about securing honor for ourselves and advancing our own reputations. That's why Paul says in verse 3, "Do not think of yourself more highly that you ought ..." That's our tendency, isn't it? We think overmuch of ourselves, and over little of others. We don't always rejoice when others are recognized or honored. We feel that this somehow detracts from our own reputation. So instead we so easily become envious or jealous.
One of the best examples of this in the Bible is King Saul. Remember how Goliath challenged the Israelites in hand-to-hand combat? Remember how none of the Israelites dared to meet his challenge? Remember how a shepherd boy by the name of David answered Goliath's challenge and killed him with a stone and sling? King Saul heaped honor after honor upon David because of this.
But, King Saul's attitude toward David quickly changed when he heard the women of Israel singing the praises of this young boy: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." What was his response?
(1Sam 18:8-9) Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. "They have credited David with tens of thousands," he thought, "but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?" (9) And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.Saul couldn't stand the thought of someone else getting the praise and being under the spotlight. He was filled with envy.
We envy people for many reasons: possessions, accomplishments, talents, fame, recognition. We envy their houses, their furniture, their clothes, their income, their cars, their toys, their parents, their farms, their computer.
A couple of years ago Christian Leadership magazine interviewed the pastors of small churches with a megachurch close by; a small church has 50 - 60 members; a megachurch, in contrast, has 2000 or more members. Many of the pastors interviewed were very envious of the pastor or pastors of the megachurch overshadowing them. Those megachurches had all the programs and ministries, received all the publicity, and were the first to be contacted by City Hall. So not even pastors are exempt from King Saul's kind of envy.
Envy, however, is not healthy. The Bible tells us to avoid it, to put it away. The Apostle Paul, for instance, says, "Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other" (Gal 5:26).
B As I said a moment ago, Jesus tells us this morning that every Christian should work to make other believers "look good." Each of us should rejoice when others achieve, when they are honored, when they are successful.
Human nature being what it is, however, most of us tend to criticize or run-down those who dare to stand in the spotlight.
One of the best examples of this in the Bible is Aaron and Miriam, the brother and sister of Moses. They didn't like it that Moses was the one who got to pass on God's instructions to the people. They didn't like it that Moses was the one who made the decisions. They didn't like it that Moses received the honor and the glory while they remained in the background. So they began to speak "against Moses."
(Num 12:2) "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?"
Don't we often do the same thing? Those who are leaders among us often face a barrage of criticism. Someone reminded me this past week that there are those who love roast preacher for Sunday dinner, or roast youth pastor, or roast elder, or roast deacon. There are those who love to criticize the organist or pianist. There are those who love to criticize the special music.
Do you remember what happened when Aaron and Miriam dared to criticize Moses? We are told that "the anger of the Lord burned against them" (Numbers 12:9) and He inflicted Miriam with leprosy. Similarly, the Lord becomes angry when we criticize and complain instead of honor, build up, and encourage.
II Whom We Should Honor
A According to the Bible we owe honor to many different persons. Paul says, "Give everyone what you owe him: ... if honor, then honor" (Rom 13:7). Whom must we honor?
First, you all know that we must honor God. He is worthy of our highest praise and deserves all honor. Listen to what the angels of heaven say and sing:
(Rev 5:12) "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"Again and again the psalmist writes, "Praise the Lord!" Giving praise means bringing honor. By our worship, gifts, witness, and life we are to bring honor to God.
B Second, we need to honor all those who are over us. Citizens are to honor their rulers (1 Pet 2:17), slaves their masters (1 Tim 6:1-2), children their parents (Ex 20:12), believers their elders and pastors (1 Thess 5:12-13). We owe all these people respect and honor because of their God-given position over us.
C Third, according to our text, we need to honor not just God and those who are over us but "one another" as well.
Here the Christian church can learn from secular society. Our society is quick to honor people for special accomplishments. Colleges have honors convocations for students who have achieved a 3.5 grade point average. Outstanding school athletes are honored at awards banquets. Winning Olympic athletes receive a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Governments present a medal of honor to soldiers who have displayed unusual bravery on the battle field. Department stores and fast food restaurants honor their "employee of the month." Businesses have learned to honor their secretaries with a "Secretary's Day." Our nation honors soldiers on "Veteran's Day." We honor our parents on "Father's Day" and "Mother's Day."
That's how it should be in the church. We ought to be quick to honor one another. In fact, we should take delight in honoring one another. We should be eager to find reasons for honoring others because of the gifts the Spirit has given them (Romans 12:3-8).
III How To Show Honor
A How can we honor one another? Primarily by praising and complimenting one another for efforts or achievements. This means we are to give personal compliments face-to-face. This means we are to go out of our way to thank and praise each other. One of our members has the right idea here – she sends a personal thank you card to anyone who participates in our worship services. This also means that we praise and compliment someone in front of others, and speak highly of them to others.
Jesus did this with the Roman Centurion. The Roman Centurion, if you remember, came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his sick servant. The Centurion knew Jesus did not have to come to his home to do this. Instead, he told Jesus, "Just say the word, and my servant will be healed." Jesus turned to His followers and paid the Centurion one of the greatest compliments to be found in the pages of the New Testament: "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith" (Mt 8:5-10). Jesus honored the Centurion for his faith. He did that face-to-face and He did that in front of others.
B We also honor others by associating with them, by spending time with them. In our Scripture reading Paul writes:
(Rom 12:16) Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.It is important that the church stand in sharp contrast to the world's value system that honors the rich, the successful, the famous, and the beautiful.
Topic: HonorJames warns very strongly against this kind of discrimination (James 2:1-7). Christ's body is to affirm the worth of every member, regardless of social standing. Those in church who are of "low position" by society's standards are to be honored. Associating with them should be regarded as a privilege. Remember what Jesus said once at a banquet? He said,
Title: The World Honors Only the Best
We have all heard of those dance studios that allow only the richest, the most successful, the most famous, and the most beautiful to gain entrance.
A couple of weeks ago Newsweek had an article about a TV star who was denied entry into one of these dance studios in New York City. Imagine that a TV star is not famous enough to be admitted. She was so mad that she responded by buying the studio the very next day.
(Lk 14:12-14) "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. (13) But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."Another time Jesus compared His Kingdom to a master who ordered his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame" (Lk 14:21).
Jesus showed this kind of honor to those of low position. Whom did He spend time with while on this earth? Yes, He did eat fancy dinners at the home of the rich. But He also associated with tax collectors and sinners. He wasn't ashamed to be seen talking with a Samaritan woman. He allowed a prostitute to anoint His feet with perfume and to dry them with her hair. He honored these people with His presence and company.
IV Honor One Another Above Yourselves
A We are called to honor one another. But now comes the hard part: we are to honor one another "above ourselves." That doesn't come easy. Give yourself the following "reaction test":
It is not easy, is it, to honor one another above yourselves!
- You are an elder or Church School teacher or GEMS counselor. How do you feel when someone speaks highly of another elder, Church School teacher, or GEMS counselor? What if they call that person the best elder, Church School teacher, or GEMS counselor the church has ever had? Would you be envious or glad?
- You are on a committee. The minister seems to mention every other committee or ministry in his sermons and prayers, but never yours. How do you feel? Do you demand equal air-time?
- You are an organist or pianist. Someone else is always asked to play for weddings or funerals. How does that make you feel?
- You are not nominated or elected to church office. Do you complain that you have been overlooked? Or, are you thankful that someone else's gifts and wisdom is being recognized?
Probably the best Biblical example of someone who did this was John the Baptist. He was a first century Billy Graham. People flocked to hear him preach and to be baptized by him. Then Jesus began to preach and many of John's followers left John to follow Jesus. Some of John's disciples were upset by this and wanted John to do something about it. But instead of being jealous or mad, John was genuinely glad that people were turning to Jesus. He said, "He must become greater; I must become less" (Jn 3:26, 30). John the Baptist honored Jesus above himself.
B "Honor one another above yourselves." You want to know if that is difficult? It is not difficult. It is simply not in our power to do. You see, us sinful human beings can honor one another only in union with Christ and through the operation of His Spirit. Only when we follow Jesus can we deny ourselves and honor others.
"Honor one another above yourselves." At stake here is spiritual maturity. At stake here is the depth of your conformity to Christ. At stake here is whether or not you live as one of God's children.
I want you to note the steps we take in progressing from sinners to saints:
e in the spotlight.
- First, you want the spotlight for yourself.
- Second, you are willing to share the spotlight with someone else.
- Third, you delight when others are in the spotlight instead of you.
- Fourth, your aim or goal is for others to b
What step are you on?
Jesus wants us all to progress from step one to step four. He wants us all to honor one another above ourselves.
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