Honor One Another
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Because most of the early Christians had not known Jesus personally, they needed someone to pass along the lessons he taught during his earthly ministry. The apostle Paul, who met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, wrote many letters to the first Christian churches encouraging, admonishing, and teaching them. You’re probably familiar with his letter to the church at Corinth known as the Love Chapter, but Paul’s letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome is equally powerful and often quoted as a good summary of how we are to live as the fellowship of believers.
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In this statement he summed up the Old Testament commandments, the first four of which concern our relationship with God and the last six of which concern our relationship with our fellow human beings. This passage of scripture expands on the second half of Jesus’ statement, fleshing out how we can and should love our fellow believers.
The NIV translates Paul’s first admonition as “love must be sincere.” Eugene Peterson paraphrases in The Message: “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.” Sincerity is one of love’s most important attributes. Better not to love at all if we can’t do it honestly and sincerely. Paul goes on to write, “Be devoted to one another. Honor one another above yourselves.” Honor is one of those words that seems small and simple but casts a long shadow. We talk about soldiers and others serving their country with honor. Traditional marriage vows have each spouse pledging to honor the other. But what is honor?
According to one online dictionary, honor means “honesty, fairness, or integrity; a source of credit or distinction.” To honor means “to revere or treat with respect.” When we honor one another, we treat one another with fairness, respect, and integrity. To honor someone above ourselves means to put the other person ahead of ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we are to think less of ourselves but simply to think of ourselves less. Culture does not reinforce this message. If we take our cues from society, we look out for number one, and if there’s anything left we might help someone else.
The world hasn’t really changed all that much since the first century. Governments are still run by the gamut of people, from great leaders to despots. Varying belief systems still pit “us” against “them.” The technology that promised to make our lives better also birthed hackers and online bullies. It’s easy to grow weary of the enmity between us, especially because it’s inescapable. Resisting the urge to fight back is so hard when all it takes to wound another is a few taps on a keyboard. Even in the church there is infighting and discord. And every day the world seems to sink further into darkness and chaos.
This is not how Jesus wants us to live.
We, the church, must choose a different path. Love. Forgive. Honor. If we are to be the light of the world, as we are called to be, we must resist the world’s way and follow the way of Jesus instead. Look to him. Pray. Immerse ourselves in scripture. Offer mercy and grace to our fellow believers. Only then are we credible to unbelievers. Only then can we sincerely offer his love and light and hope to the world.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available) and stay for Discovery Hour (all ages).