Feelings, Rights, Preferences, and Honor
“Honor” is not a concept often mentioned in our culture these days.
I worked in the corporate world for twenty years. As I climbed the corporate ladder, I moved from an entry-level role to senior executive positions for financial services corporations in and around Wall Street. In my experience, the most successful people were frequently governed by ambition. Sadly, many appeared to be ruled by two motives: Look out for number one and It’s all about me. If a coworker needed assistance, their first priority was often, “What’s in it for me?”
This attitude may generate success in the corporate world, but in the body of Christ, the result is disaster. Max Lucado describes it this way in his book, It’s Not About Me:
“What chaos this philosophy creates. What if a symphony orchestra followed such an approach? Can you imagine an orchestra with an “It’s all about me” outlook? Each artist clamoring for self-expression. Tubas blasting nonstop. Percussionists pounding to get attention. The cellist shoving the flutist out of the center-stage chair. The trumpeter standing atop the conductor’s stool tooting his horn. Sheet music disregarded. Conductor ignored. What do you have but an endless tune-up session? Harmony? Hardly.”
But the Bible tells us to “Give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10 NIV). So what does this look like in a culture that worships an “It’s all about me” perspective?
To honor someone involves respect. It requires recognition of their value. Sadly, too many think preferring another person in honor somehow demeans themselves. That looking out for the interests of others in addition to our own is naïve.
If anyone had a right to demand preference over others, it would be Jesus Christ. The Creator of the universe submitted Himself to those He created. Not something you or I would willingly do, is it? And yet, God calls us to follow Christ’s example.
When Paul wrote to the ancient Philippian church, he told them believers are to have the same attitude Jesus had (Phil. 2:5). We’re not to elevate our rights and status above those of others. Jesus modeled what it meant to lay aside His own rights as he laid down His life for us.
Preferring others in honor does not mean we become doormats for others to trample. God is not calling Christians to forget their own interests entirely. He does, however, call us to put others first. So how do we do this?
I’ll be the first to confess, obeying these instructions does not come naturally to me. They’re not within my comfort zone and they don’t always make me happy.
But God is more concerned with my character than with my comfort, and more concerned with my holiness than with my happiness. Why? Because comfort and happiness are temporary experiences, while the development of character and holiness prepares us for eternity.
The relationship between feelings, rights, preferences, and honor is important. Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden summed up the message of Romans 12:10 when he said,
“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”
How can you apply Coach Wooden’s advice in practical ways this week?