Brotherly Love: Out-Doing the Competition

Over and over in scripture, Jesus gives us the command to love one another. Furthermore, this love we are to have for one another is not, according to Jesus’ teachings, some “ho hum” kind of love. Not at all! Instead, it’s the kind of love that would cause a person to give their life for the sake of another. And not just a friend or family member—but any believer, when- and where-ever the need arises. Now that’s a high calling!

Repetition is the bold-font, the underscore, the exclamation point of God’s language. And thus, we cannot overlook the emphasis God places on the call to love others. His teaching on the subject is not only given by Jesus in the Gospels, but it is repeated by the Holy Spirit many times through the writers of the rest of the New Testament.

There is a verse in Romans 12 that captures the action required of the kind of love we are to have for one another. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” it reads. “Give preference to one another in honor.” We understand the first half of the verse but what about the second? A translator’s note in the New American Standard Bible puts it this way: “out do one another in showing honor…..” What a perfect description of what our actions should be towards our fellow believers!

Can you imagine how the Church would look today if all believers were faithful in following this instruction? Everyone trying to “out do” his fellow believers in showing honor to the other? Giving far more than he is receiving? No one would put Self first. Everyone would consider the needs of others. No jealousy, no envy. No accumulation of things. Love and harmony would prevail.

Of course we do not have the ability to do any of this in our own strength. In fact, it would be absolutely impossible unless Christ our Lord is living in us. Scripture tells us that once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior , He dwells “in us.” And with Jesus “in us,” we have the ability to put brotherly love into action and “out-do” one another in showing honor to the other.

The promise does not come without stipulation: We must be willing to let Jesus have His way with us. Romans 12:1 says we need to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.” That means to lay it all down; put our lives on the altar before Him. And when we give ourselves to Him, totally, completely and without reservation, He does the rest.

Only then are we fully equipped to “out do one another in showing honor.”


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