“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
A common theme throughout the New Testament is the idea that you should see other people as just as important, if not more important than yourself. Jesus clearly starts the trend by including “love your neighbor as yourself” as a part of his summary of the greatest commands. He introduces the idea that simple kindness or courtesy isn’t all we’re expected to do for others. We are to love them just as much as we love ourselves.
Nowadays there is a lot of negativity around the self. Self-consciousness and low self-esteem are rampant. Many people may argue that they don’t even really love themselves, so how can they love others that way? Well, the truth is that you do love yourself. You may not love every trait or feature of your physical body or your personality, but you do love yourself. Most of the things we do on a daily basis are, in some way or another, done for our own benefit. We eat, we sleep, we do what feels good to us. What Jesus is saying is that we should go out of our way to do things that take care of other peoples’ needs just as much as we do for ourselves – which is A LOT!
This verse in Romans takes it a step farther. Paul says we should honor other people above ourselves. So not only should we love them as much as we love ourselves, but we should even show more honor and service to them than we do to ourselves. That’s a difficult task, but it is the direct result of the first half of the verse: “Be devoted to one another in love.” If you’re truly devoted to someone in love, honoring them over yourself will come naturally.
Think of two people in romantic love, especially at the beginning of a relationship. They want to do anything and everything to make the other happy. Now, that may not last very long in a romantic relationship, but it’s a similar concept. The act of serving and taking care of another person isn’t a chore, it’s a pure desire that stems from the love you have for them.
So if you find the second part of this verse to be difficult, the solution is to work on the first part. Love. It goes back to Jesus’ command to love your neighbor. Start there, and the rest will flow from it naturally.
Help me to love others as you love them. Help me to see my neighbors through your eyes. I know that if I can love them the way that you do, I will serve them selflessly too. Help me to learn that kind of love and to use Jesus as my example.
In Jesus’ Name,