Calvary Road Baptist Church

“IN HONOUR PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER”

Romans 12.10

 

Reggie and Raymond have been friends just about their whole life. I think they first met in first or second grade at Meadowbrook Elementary. They then attended New River Junior High School and Stranahan High School together. They were not always in the same classes, but they were always in the same school and looked for each other to hang out before school, during lunch, and after school for the walks and then the drive home. Those two got along so well that their parents and teachers would remark that they seemed to read each other’s minds, being able to communicate without words by just looking at each other. Their parents took them to the same church, but neither family was very regular in attendance. In Sunday School, they would sit together when their parents brought them on the same Sundays. And in church one would sit with the other and his family, usually Raymond’s folks to get away from Reggie’s little sister. They both thought she was a royal pain. But by the time they graduated from high school Raymond had stopped criticizing Reggie’s little sister and came up with reasons to spend more time at Reggie’s house than having Reggie spend time at his house.

Over the years, Raymond and Reggie stayed very close, going fishing together, going hunting together, watching football games together, and even riding dirt bikes together. They just hung out together doing nothing when they had nothing to do. They liked each other more than they liked anyone else they had ever known. They were closer than any two brothers anyone in either of their families had ever seen. Then something began to happen. Though it annoyed Reggie a bit, Raymond started talking to Reggie’s little sister whenever he saw her. Then he started calling her . . . a lot. Then Raymond started hanging out with Reggie’s sister and Reggie found himself kinda alone. After a while, Reggie met a guy at his work that he got along with pretty well, a nice enough guy. But he never did like him as much as he had liked his childhood friend Raymond. Reggie and his new friend would hang out and do things together. They never did hunt and fish together like Reggie and Raymond had done, but they did ride motorcycles a bit and occasionally went to the range to shoot. One day Reggie’s new friend invited him to come to his church with him, to some kind of men’s function. And though it had been a couple of years since he had gone to church with his family, Reggie told him, “Sure, I’ll meet you there.” Reggie enjoyed himself with the Christian men at his new friend’s church, so he went to the Sunday morning service the following week. After a few Sunday morning services, Reggie decided to try out a Sunday evening service. He got home from work too late or he would have even tried to make it to the Wednesday night Bible study time. Without thinking about it much, his new friend and going to church seemed to fill a bit of a void left in his life by Raymond’s interest in his little sister. Turns out, they were now planning to marry.

Reggie’s life continued on a pretty even keel, without much in the way of excitement except for being the best man for Raymond at his little sister’s wedding, until he felt like he had been hit by lightning one Sunday morning while listening to the pastor preach. It wasn’t a particularly special sermon. There were no theatrics or hysterics. The church’s services were usually pretty tame, focusing on the preacher’s message from the Bible, and that Sunday morning was no exception, but for his encounter with God. God intruded into Reggie’s life that morning as He had never before done. As he left the service Reggie was stunned. More than stunned, he was lost and he knew it. His concern for his soul deepening, it was several weeks later that Reggie, after seeking the pastor’s counsel on several occasions and reading some things the pastor had given him, was brought by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the very end of himself and he turned to Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ, he became a blood washed and sins forgiven Christian. Some weeks after that Reggie was baptized and became a member of the church. Though he was caught up in the excitement of his new life in Christ, what with reading the Bible and going to church, it was a bit perplexing to Reggie that neither his parents, or his sister, or his lifelong friend and now brother-in-law Raymond accepted his invitation to church to see him baptized. As a matter of fact, neither had any of them shown the slightest bit of interest when he eagerly tried to tell them about his conversion experience. He felt no hard feelings, but he was a bit bewildered. As the months passed, Reggie was laid off of his job and eventually found another, better, line of work. He also met a woman at his new job who turned out to also be a member of his church. After about a year, they were married. She was a wonderful young Christian woman. Raymond and Reggie’s sister now married a couple of years, did come to Reggie’s wedding. After all, Raymond served as Reggie’s best man and Reggie’s bride had asked Reggie’s sister to be in the wedding. Everything was great. The reception was great though Raymond’s parents groused when they found out there was no booze. The honeymoon was great. And life as a newly married man was great.

The hitch took place about six months after Reggie had gotten married when his little sister and Raymond invited the newlyweds to come over for dinner. The problem was that they wanted Reggie and his new wife to come over on a Sunday night. It couldn’t be Saturday night because Raymond and Reggie’s sister spent every Saturday at the lake on their boat. It had to be Sunday, and Raymond and Reggie’s sister were not at all happy that Reggie and his bride were a bit reluctant to give them an immediate answer to their invitation. After all, this was not just family but lifelong friendship, Raymond had pointed out. Surely his sister and his best friend for life took precedence over a church service, he had reasoned. Still, Reggie wanted to think it through and get back to them. His sweetie raised her eyebrows over the whole thing and suggested he talk to the pastor tomorrow night after Bible study. He called the church office the next morning and asked to schedule a meeting with the pastor after church, but there were already two people signed up to talk to him. So he invited the pastor to lunch. When he explained the situation the pastor recited two Bible verses to him, Galatians 6.10 and Romans 12.10. Galatians 6.10 reads,

 

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

 

Romans 12.10 reads,

 

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

 

Over their lunch, the pastor quickly rehearsed the implications of Galatians 6.10. “Reggie, God’s Word orders our priorities for us. Therefore, though we intend to do good toward everyone, time and resources limit our options and force us to make choices. In Galatians 6.10 the Apostle Paul indicated that God’s priority for a Christian is to bless another Christian rather than to bless anyone who is unsaved at the expense of or instead of a believer. That is why our church services are so ordered to first bless God’s people and to then seek to be a blessing to unsaved visitors and not the other way around. Some churches are totally committed to outreach and pay little attention to feeding the flock, but scripture does not support that approach. As well, between two friends, the one who is a Christian should be a higher priority for you than your friend who is an unbeliever, regardless of how long you have known either of them.”

“But what about Romans 12.10?” Reggie asked. The pastor responded, “Paul was even more explicit in Romans 12.10 than he was in Galatians 6.10.” Of course, Paul’s letter to the Romans is a doctrinal masterpiece, setting forth justification by faith in Christ as it is shown so thoroughly nowhere else in the Bible. In Romans 1, 2, and 3, Paul sets forth man’s great need for justification in the sight of God. In chapters 3-8, he explains the nature of justification by faith in Christ. Then, beginning in Romans chapter 12 the Apostle Paul sets forth to his readers what happens, and what should happen, in the life of someone who has trusted Christ and who is justified in the sight of God. In Romans 12.1-2 we are shown what should happen in the believer’s life with respect to God:

 

1      I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2      And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

Romans 12.3-8 is where the Apostle Paul shows what the Christian’s relationship to his church family ought to be as seen by a consideration of the congregation as a whole. The child of God is to recognize the difference between unity and uniformity, allowing each church member to be different in his own right, possessing his own spiritual gifts and individual personality, and enjoying the wonderful variety that is supposed to be found in each congregation. This was a bit of a challenge for Reggie. Since he was always very athletic and not very studious, he had generally been uncomfortable around people uninterested in sports, and he just plain didn’t like most of those he had gone to school with who excelled in academics. He was convinced they were conceited and opinionated, and he didn’t trust them at all.

However, Reggie found that Romans 12.9-10 challenged him. In those two verses Paul addressed the matter of a Christian’s love for other Christians for no other reason than the fact that they were Christians, people who like him had trusted the Savior, people who like him were forgiven all their sins, people who like him were God’s children, people who like him were going to heaven someday, and people who like him were committed to serve God. Paul wrote,

 

9      Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

10    Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

 

Paul was very clear about this matter of loving other Christians. Our love for other believers in Christ should be without dissimulation, meaning it should be real, genuine, and without pretense.[1] In a word sincere.[2]

“But some of the members of our church seem to me to be such phonies, Pastor.” “Just because they are different from you, Reggie, and enjoy situations you are uncomfortable with,” Pastor said, “does not make them phonies. The Bible teaches that you are to love them. So if you refuse to try to love them and spend all your time sitting by yourself with your smart phone then you are the one who is a phony, not them.” Stung by what Pastor had said, Reggie mumbled, “Okay, I’ll do my best.” “But my real question has to do with my sister and her husband Raymond. Neither one of them are Christians, and they’ve invited me and the wife to skip church next Sunday night to have dinner with them.” “Why not go out to dinner Saturday night?” Pastor asked. “They don’t get back from the lake until late on Saturdays,” Reggie said. “Oh, so they insist that you adjust your schedule so they won’t have to adjust their schedule?” “That’s what it looks like, Pastor. What do you suggest?”

“Pastors are not given to churches to make Christian’s decisions for them, Reggie, but to declare God’s truth, to urge obedience to God’s will, and to help believers grow in grace and wisdom. That decision is yours and yours alone, but Romans 12.10 will help you discern God’s will in such matters, even with regard to your sister and brother-in-law, Raymond. The first half of Romans 12.10 describes the kind of relationship you are supposed to have with every believer in Christ, even those you may find harder to like and to love than others. However, it is the last half of the verse that speaks directly to your priorities as they apply to other believers, and which affects your relationships with nonbelievers.” Romans 12.10 reads,

 

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

 

“Reggie, you are to be devoted to other Christians with a family sort of love, not based on personal attraction or desirability. This quality is the primary way the world can recognize us as followers of Christ.[3] You can’t reasonably convince anyone you are a Christian with an attitude like ‘I hate him. He is such a phoney.” The Pastor continued, “That understood, let’s zero in on the last phrase, ‘in honour preferring one another.’ Reggie, this phrase means that it is God’s will for you to show genuine appreciation and admiration for fellow believers by putting them first.[4] This fits perfectly in with what Paul wrote in Philippians 2.3, where he said, ‘Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.’ Reggie, your primary concerns with respect to the decisions you make as a Christian are, obviously, out of concern for God’s will. That’s number one. But secondly, it is other Christians and not yourself, other Christians and not unsaved people. Those are God’s priorities for your life.”

After they had finished their lunch and pastor prayed once more for his wisdom, Reggie had so much on his mind that he found it difficult to focus after he got back to work. Before leaving work to drive home at the end of the day, he texted his wife and told her not to fix supper. There were important matters they had to discuss, so they would go out to eat instead of concerning themselves with preparing a meal and then doing dishes afterward.

After their food was served and they were finishing their quiet meal off with a relaxing cup of coffee, Reggie’s wife asked, “Are you ready to talk about your lunch with Pastor now?” He nodded that he was. Over the next few minutes Reggie provided spiritual leadership to his wife by summarizing what he understood to be important life principles for those who sought to exalt Christ, glorify God, reflect well on the gospel, and show Christ’s love toward their fellow Christians while reaching out to the lost with love and consideration:

 

First, THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIORITY MUST BE GOD FIRST AND CHRIST FIRST

 

After all, Reggie pointed out to his wife what they already knew the Lord Jesus Christ had taught in His Sermon on the Mount, the familiar words of Matthew 6.33:

 

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

 

He then added to that what Pastor had shown him in Romans 12.1:

 

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

 

Clearly, God and the Savior belong at the very top of any believer’s list of priorities. That is beyond dispute. His wife was so excited by what her new husband was doing she could only nod in agreement.

 

Next, THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIORITY IS TO THEN BE CHRISTIANS THEN THE UNSAVED

 

Stepping away from Reggie for a moment, most of you know that my own early years as a believer in Christ were spent in an environment in which the be all and end all for all church ministry and for all individual Christian service was evangelism, evangelism, and more evangelism. I well remember the ridicule I observed directed to a book titled “Lifestyle Evangelism: Learning to Open Your Life to Those Around You,” by Joe Aldrich. I was troubled hearing others mock how preposterous they thought it was for a Christian to actually concern himself with his personal testimony and credibility as being a factor in bringing others to Christ. Yet the passing of years has changed the opinions of almost every Christian I know in this regard. There have been so many false professions of faith, and so many who have claimed Christ have fallen away while those who were deeply affected and influenced by the genuine Christianity of those who brought them to Christ are the ones who have been seen to actually take root and grow.

That brings upon many professing Christians a real dilemma. What if you have a close personal friend who once claimed he was a Christian but has now fallen completely away, and not only repudiates the Christian faith but actually sides with unbelievers against Christianity? God’s Word is clear.

 

“In honour preferring one another.”

 

The cause of Christ and Christianity plays so prominent a role in the Christian’s life that even family members thereby sometimes conclude that the Christian must now hate them, Luke 14.26:

 

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

 

The reality of this new set of priorities reflects the truth that Christ died on the cross for us, and our loyalty, therefore, should be both to Him and to those who are His. Thus, the real issue with friends and loyalties is not how much you personally like someone, but where he stands with the Savior who is also your Savior. This is reflected in the Christian hymn “Who is on the Lord’s side?” Reggie indicated he had a really difficult challenge ahead with his sister and Raymond. His wife agreed.

 

Third, THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIORITY IS TO THEN BE CHURCH MEMBERS BEFORE NON-MEMBERS

 

This reflects the reality of Romans 12.10 and Galatians 6.10 and Philippians 2.3, verses cited by the Pastor to Reggie as each being instructions for Christians with regard to their dealings with others who are living and serving God in the same congregation, in other words, members of the same church. To be sure, we should love and treat kindly all who name the name of Christ. However, that band of brothers and sisters that we have been joined to for effective and consecrated service to our Lord are those who are members of our same church. It is as Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation when he said things like,

 

“God hath tempered the body together,”

 

“That there should be no schism in the body,”

 

and

 

“members should have the same care one for another.”[5]

 

This priority is also reflected in such verses as Hebrews 10.25:

 

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

 

Finally, THE CHRISTIAN’S PRIORITY IS TO BE OTHER CHURCH MEMBERS BEFORE SELF

 

“Honey, What else can the phrase ‘in honour preferring one another’ mean?” Reggie asked. One fellow put it somewhat this way:

 

This does not mean that a Christian is to pretend a fellow church member is somehow better than he is, and, therefore, should be treated in a manner reflecting superiority. What Paul says here has nothing to do with pretending. What is at work here is the realization that a Christian, especially a fellow church member, not only bears the image and likeness of God, but in view of the fact that he is a believer in Jesus Christ as well as a fellow church member he is also a representative to me of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is for that reason that I must honor him, not just as myself, but above myself.[6]

 

Again, Reggie’s wife smiled at him and nodded her understanding and agreement.

“Thus, we are called upon by God’s Word to treat everyone with love and respect whenever possible. That said, limitations of time, resources, and opportunity demand that we make decisions reflecting our limitations. When it comes to God or not God, we choose God over not God. When it comes to Christian or non-Christian, we choose Christian over non-Christian. When it comes to Christian church member or Christian non-church member, we choose Christian church member over Christian non-church member. And when it comes to yourself or a Christian church member, we should choose Christian church member over self.” His wife interjected, “Reggie, I can’t think of a better way of stating it.”

He wrapped it all up by concluding, “Those are the priorities we find taught in God’s Word. Those are the priorities that result in pleasing and glorifying God, exalting His Son Jesus Christ, strengthening our Christian marriage, and someday raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those are also priorities that, while we may sometimes anger unsaved people who have different loyalties, works, in the long run, to place us as Christians in the best place to have real ministry in the lives of others.”

 

As they walked holding hands to their car, Reggie said, “When we get home I will call Raymond and sis and tell them that Sunday just doesn’t work for us.” “You know that will not only tick Ray and your sister off, but it will infuriate your mom and dad, too.” “Yeah, I know,” Reggie sighed. Once in the car, Reggie turned to her and said, “Honey, there is no way in the world I will ever impress upon my family and Raymond the importance of knowing and serving Christ unless they come to understand that whenever I have to choose between the Lord and them that I will choose the Lord. And to keep them from thinking that I don’t love them because of my choices I’ll just have to love them all the more in between those times they force me to make those choices.”

As Reggie started the car and they headed for home, his young wife dispatched a silent prayer heavenward: “Heavenly Father, Thank you for Reggie. I could not ask for a better man to be my husband and to someday be the father of the children you give us. With such priorities as these in his life and for our marriage, I do so look forward to what you have in store for him and also for me.”

That, beloved, is my offering to you today, a message titled “IN HONOUR PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER.”

__________

[1] William Hendricksen, Exposition Of Paul’s Epistle To The Romans, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981), page 413.

[2] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, General Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), page 488.

[3] See footnote for Romans 12.10 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1717.

[4] Ibid.

[5] 1 Corinthians 12.24-25

[6] C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle To The Romans, Volume II (ICC), (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Limited, 1979), page 633.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org