At some point, I reached an age where I realized there was a ‘good manners’ conspiracy going on in my family. When I went to a friend’s house, I was reminded to defer to them since it was their house…but when a friend came to my house, I was reminded to defer to them because they were a guest in our home.
I definitely had moments of thinking, “that’s not fair!” It certainly wasn’t logical. I usually complied…but I didn’t like it! The only pattern it followed was, “you always defer to others”.
Hmm… kinda sounds like scripture.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10
That word, preferring, basically means taking the initiative. So, we’re to give honor to others before they’ve shown us honor. Perhaps whether they seem to deserve it or not…mercy. We’re to out-do one another in showing honor. How very unlike our world thinks. We are taught by society to look out for ourselves first and foremost. We are taught that if we don’t demand the respect of others we’ll never get it.
Instead, I’m supposed to put you first. I’m to consider your needs before my own…think of how I might promote you, bless you, encourage you, honor you.
Can you imagine if we all actually did those things?? How would it change our daily lives? How would it change our perspective and attitude and contentment?
I can think of a few ways, partly because I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve seen the result of thinking of my own needs/wants and the result of considering the other person before myself.
1. We would no longer be sent into a spiral of discouragement and insecurity when we don’t get the response we desire from another person.
We wouldn’t be worried about whether they met our emotional need because we would be so focused on honoring them. We might pause long enough to consider the struggles they have of their own, which limit their ability to anticipate and meet our needs.
2. It would be so much easier to enter into God’s presence in prayer and worship.
A funny thing happens when we focus our attention on the promotion of others over ourselves. It makes it easier to rejoice when they rejoice and mourn when they mourn. It makes it harder for bitterness to take root. Which makes it a whole lot easier to commune with God.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20 ESV)
3. It would make it a whole lot easier to get on with the business of living this life as God has called us to.
Oh, how much time I’ve wasted caught up in thoughts of what others thought of me…or how they treated (or I wished they treated) me.
But scripture, as my pastor has been pointing out lately, is pretty clear on how God wants us spending our lives. And it doesn’t really have anything to do with self promotion or self preservation.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)
All of the commandments are summed up in the New Testament when Jesus answers the lawyer among the Pharisees and Saducees…
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matthew 22:36-37, 39)
I’m not writing a parenting blog (hardly!). But this little nugget from growing up has been turning in my mind for a while with the spiritual (and grown up) implications.
We talk a lot in our Christian circles about submitting to God and deferring to Him. And sure, we talk about being kind to others. But what would happen if believers started giving preference to others?