Last week, we talked about bearing one another’s burdens. You will receive a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up! Our “One Another” series has also taught us to love, pray for, encourage, serve, and to show hospitality to each other. Today, we are going to look at the command to prefer one another. In marriage, Tammy and I never have a problem as long as I get my way! The same is true in the body of Christ. In order to have healthy, biblical community and relationships, we are to put others before ourselves. In Romans 12, Paul gives three ways we can do this.
In Our Thinking
First, we read that we are to renew our minds (v. 2). The word “think” is used repeatedly (v. 3). It all starts in the mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). Paul warns that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. This doesn’t mean to belittle yourself, but to recognize that you and others are made in the image of God. If we want to do right, we have to think right.
There are times I have to admit that others are better than I am in certain areas. I have to step aside and let them do their jobs. Don’t have too much pride to ask for help! There are other times, where I may be better than someone else at something, but still need to step aside. Are you willing to step aside in areas where you are gifted? That is the real test! We must let others with the same gifts go ahead of us. We need to be raising up the next generation. How will they learn if we don’t let them? When you think you are the only one that can do something, or you think you can do it better, or you think you are always right, you are motivated by self and it causes division in the family. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
In Our Serving
In Romans 12:4-8, Paul compares the church, the body of Christ, to the human body. There are many individual members, but we are all interrelated. God wants every member to work together using our personality and spiritual gifts to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ. God has given us each specific gifts for a specific purpose. Don’t consider yourself more useful or less useful than others. Don’t evaluate people on the basis of your own gift. Don’t get proud of your gift and think it is better than someone else’s. Don’t underestimate the value of another believer’s gift. Don’t use your particular gift as an excuse not to manifest the other gifts. Put others ahead of yourself. Open the door for others. Offer them your seat. God is the One who gifted us, let Him put us where He wants us. Don’t toot your own horn or promote yourself. God’s promotion is always better than self-promotion!
In Our Loving
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:10-11). Be loyal to others. Don’t be lazy in loving them, but be excited about looking for ways to meet their needs. Paul goes on to say, “Bless those who persecute you,” and “Repay no one evil for evil” (v. 14, 17). Those can be hard to swallow! When you do this though, God will fight for you!
A classic example in the Bible is Abraham and Lot. In Genesis 13, Abram lets Lot take his pick of the land. He could have said, “I am the oldest, I get the first choice.” Instead, he preferred the other person. In letting Lot have first choice, Abram let God make the choice for him. You can prefer the other person when you trust God to make the choice for you. Let people take what they want and let God make the choice for you. God will give you far more than you ever dreamed! It does not matter who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory. Pray like John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase.”