J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Love Honor and Obey Part 1

When we use the word “honor” we often think of winning a contest, receiving an award, or getting a trophy.  It is usually thought of as something you receive during a ceremony.  Now I’ve won a couple of awards in my time, and I’ve also been in ceremonies where I hoped to win one and didn’t.  I remember sitting through the Teacher of the Year ceremony and just freaking out when I won, and I also remember sitting through some ceremonies in high school where it seemed like every person in the crowd won something and I didn’t.  Both experiences brought about unique feelings of anticipation and exaltation, and whether you win or lose, there is a sense of letdown once you get home

However, scripture uses honor a vastly different way, and despite an air of familiarity with it, I’m not sure quite many people know what it means.  The most common use is the command for children to honor their parents (Exodus 20) which gets reduced to an expectation that children should obey their mom and dad without question.  Though obedience is an aspect of honoring, approaching honor as blind obedience is a pretty minimalistic view of giving honor.

Scripturally honor takes a much more broad view than just obeying without a question.  Honor means interacting with others according to the respect they deserve while actively loving and caring for them.  So it makes sense why obedience is so emphasized when it comes to giving honor because disobeying someone who merits your obedience is incredibly dishonorable, but the word really means an active, passionate, caring for another.

Biblically, in addition to showing and giving honor to God, there are commands to honor include honoring your parents (Exodus 20:12), the elderly (Lev 19:32), others who fear the Lord (Psalm 15:4),  the wise (Proverbs 3:35), gracious women (Proverbs 11:16), the  poor and in needy (Proverbs 14:31), the one who guards the reputation of his employer (Proverbs 27:18), the humble who do not seek places of honor (Luke 14:10), any who seeks to do good (Romans 2:10), word of God (2 Thessalonians 3:1), widows (1 Timothy 5:3), elders who rule well (1 Timothy 5:17), and of course Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:3).   That is not even an exhaustive list.

Apparently, the giving and receiving of honor is important in the life of the believer, and believe it or not, what we are going to see this week in the book of Romans is that God intends for each and every believer to show honor to each and every other believer within the church.  Pursuing that is what we hope to understand this week, so with that in mind, let’s attempt to answer this Big Picture Question:

Big Picture Question:  What would it look like to out do one another in showing honor in the name of Jesus Christ?

Romans 12:9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

As always, let’s reminds ourselves of the context of these commands.  In Romans 12, Paul commands believers now through the power of Jesus’ resurrection to offer living sacrifices of their bodies as a spiritual act of worship to God.  We do that in the context of not being conformed to this world and we also do it by functioning as a unified body of believers giving, loving, and serving together.  If you have a gift, talent, or ability, you are to use it in service of God within the context of the ministry of the church.

But if any of you have ever served in the context of the church, you know that sacrifice is exactly what service is.  It is wonderfully rewarding and enjoyable, but unless your talent of biting your tongue is greater than whatever other talent you have, you probably won’t last long.

Well Paul is seeking to describe exactly what offering yourself as living sacrifice looks like within the church body.  He begins by commanding them to Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil.  Now these two commands are inextricably related and connected. You can’t do one without the other.  But for the sake of our own understanding, let’s take them one at a time and then attempt to connect them.

What does it mean for your love to be genuine?   Sadly, I think we all know what disingenuous love looks like more than we do genuine love.  I guess disingenuous love is an oxymoron because if it is disingenuous it must be something else.

Using 1 Corinthians 12 as the authority on love, we find a description of what love is not.

  • Love does not envy and is not arrogant or rude.
  • Love does not insist on having its own way.
  • Love is not irritable or resentful.
  • Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.

Wow, when you hear that list of things that love is not read out loud, it should cause you pause.  Most spouses when they get in an argument are professional recorders of what their spouse has done wrong which it pretty resentful.  You’ll hear such expressions as, “Oh yeah?  What about you?” or “Don’t even get started with me after all you’ve done.”  When I speak to marriages that are in trouble, it typically comes down to one spouse being absolutely unwilling to forgive and restore their spouse for something they’ve done in the past.

Sadly most believers’ expressions of their political opinions are arrogant, rude, and far from humble.  Rarely do I hear the truth spoke in love.  And a lot of the times when parents get angry over their children’s disobedience, the parents do just as much whining about not getting their way as their children’s whine about not getting their way.

The Gordon Duncan translation of “Let love be genuine,” is “If it ain’t genuine, it ain’t love.”

Well, what then does genuine love look like?  Well first of all, genuine love abhors evil.  Abhor is a pretty strong word.  We don’t use it a lot these days.  It is perhaps the Bible’s most strong word for hate.  Love does hate believe it or not, and what it hates is evil.  Genuine love hates whatever God calls a sin.

Now, you may hear that and then justify some of the arguments and scraps you get in with you spouse, parent, or child.  You think, “Well, the reason I am so hard on so and so is because I truly love evil and so I will not condone evil in the life of those I love.”  That argument makes complete sense except when you communicate that hatred of evil in an evil way.   I’ve seen some of the worst examples of supposedly hating evil in the name of Christianity.

I once knew a Father who was mad that his daughter had married a non-Christian.  In an effort not to condone what she had done, he refused to show the couple mercy in any way even when it was within his means to help them.  He said any help either materially or financially that he would give them would condone their sinful relationship and his stated purpose was to break them so that she would repent of her sin.  Unfortunately, the only thing that grew in that relationship was bitterness.

Gang, Jesus definitively hated evil and he flipped a few tables in His life to prove that point, but there is not one example of Jesus withdrawing either love or attention for the purpose of getting someone to repent.  Jesus loved in the 2 Corinthians 6 way that actually describes genuine love as a weapon of righteousness.

  • It means not the withdrawal of love but the pouring out of love.
  • It means not making love passive but making love active.
  • It means making love visible as well as vocal.

Folks the hating of evil and the expression of genuine love is the power of the gospel and the weapon of righteousness that you possess.  Think about Jesus’ expression of love to people who really needed to hear it.   All from Luke.

Jesus raises the widow’s son (7:11-17)  You know what was on the mind of most people who attended the funeral of a woman who was a widow?   “I wonder how much I can get her house from her on the open market.”  No husband, no son meant no right to own property which meant that the widow would soon be homeless.  Jesus gave the widow back her whole world when He raised her son from the dead.

How about the sinful woman forgiven (7:36-50)?  Can you imagine that your reputation is so bad that you don’t even get a name in the course of human history?  You are just known as “the sinful woman”.  Well this woman finds the only kind, gracious man on the face of the planet, so she anoints and kisses Jesus’ feet continually.  The religious folks accuse Jesus of not knowing the woman’s reputation b/c surely He wouldn’t allow her to touch Him if He knew her reputation.  Jesus goes on to lay the parable smack down on them telling them that those who have been forgiven much love much and proceeds to forgive the sinful woman while rebuking the religious men.

After that, guess where Jesus goes?  To a friend’s house?  Nope?  The verse speaks about  group of women who supported Jesus  (8:1-3) and then He doesn’t worry about His witness and crashes at Mary and Martha’s place (10:38-42).  When a rich laywer gets around trying to tell Jesus how good He is Jesus tell Him a story about what genuine love looks like.

Apparently, a Jewish man and a priest weren’t willing to help a man who had  been beaten and left naked on the side of the road.  But godless pagan inbred Samaritan not only cared for him, he paid for all of his doctor’s bills as well.  Jesus also got around to healing the social outcast lepers, including one thankful Samaritan (17:11-19) and befriending a traitorous tax collector (19:1-10).

That my friend is genuine love.  Not hating people because their sinful, but hating the repercussions of evil in people’s lives even if they are the one’s at fault.  That, my friends, is called brotherly love and as Matthew 15:20 says, if you imitate Jesus in these types of actions, then Jesus is your brother.

Folks, can you grasp the scandalous yet genuine love to which you are being called?  Some of you may just be called to forgive your spouse and quit reminding them of all the mistakes they’ve made.  Some of you may need to call a parent and tell them you forgive them.  Then you probably need to invite that couple over to your house to eat.  You know the couple…the one you’ve always said that you wouldn’t have in your house because you don’t want to condone their behavior.  That sounds a lot like the Pharisee “If He was a godly man He would know who this woman is that is anointing feet.”  Jesus’ point, “Yeah I know who she is that is exactly why I’m associating with her.”

You know that person who supports nationalized health care?  Quit arguing with them and love them.  You know that gay co-worker or family member?  Love them.  Hang out with them.  You know what we should do?  We should try to, I don’t know, outdo each other in showing this kind of honor…just like Jesus did.

Let’s take a look at what this looks like.  Look at verse 11.

Look for Part 2 & 3 of this message to come soon.

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January 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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