A few years after we adopted my lovely daughter Savita, we engaged in a epic contest of intellect.
Ok, it was just ‘Chutes and Ladders’, but she was only 4 at the time, so that’s about as intellectual as we could get.
Due to some fortuitous spins of the cardboard spinner (fortuitous or something more sinister?), Savita jumped out to a commanding lead. She was squares and squares ahead. She squealed with delight…”Daddy, I’m going to win!”
But then what took place next could only be characterized as historic. My piece (Elmo, we were playing the sesame street version) staged one of the most epic comebacks I have ever seen or heard about. While Big Bird started sliding downhill, Elmo was climbing ladders left and right. He surged back into the lead and vanquished Big Bird. Savita was crushed. She thought she had a victory in her hands and it was snatched away. She looked at me with her big brown beautiful eyes. Tears in her eyes. This was time for a fatherly moment. One of those pivotal moments in a young girl’s life.
So, I looked her in the eyes and said…
“Yeah girl, you’re going to have to bring your ‘A’ GAME if you want to beat your daddy in chutes and ladders!”
That’s when I knew there was something seriously wrong with me.
I love to compete. Anything, anytime. Loved to since I was a kid. That attitude has helped me a lot in life….to work hard, take things seriously, and excel in different arenas. But, as you can tell, it also has a dark side. And at times I have found myself talking trash to a 4 yr old.
As a follower of Christ, I have never really known what to do with this. I took the “Strengthfinders” test and “competition” was my 2nd strength (I was a little annoyed it wasn’t first). Is that really even a strength?? Most of what Christ taught & modeled seems to fly in the face of this trait. And so many problems in the church seem to stem from our society’s compulsion to compete.
Our culture has taught us to take our value from how we compare to others. This, of course, is completely counter to the gospel. Our value, our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ alone. But there has to be something for us competitors to sink our teeth into, right?
Well, listen to this verse. In the book of Romans, Paul is speaking to the church and after a beautiful and detailed explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he begins to exhort the church on how to live.
In Romans 12:10 ESV…
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Paul exhorts us to look at our brothers and sisters in Christ, and make it our business to show honor to them. Some translations dial it down a little….like the NLT, which says, “delight in showing honor”. But the word translated “outdo” here means more than just delight in it…..it means to go before, to lead the way, to set an example. (which is probably why the ESV and RSV translate it this way)
Think about this for a second. There are a lot of questions this brings up…
What does showing honor mean?….How do we do it?…..Why is it important? And we are going to touch on those in subsequent posts (hopefully)
But just think about how powerful those 6 words are. Outdo one another in showing honor.
I read one theologian describe it this way…..
“Being readier than the other to recognize and honor God’s gifts in a brother [or sister}”
Now there are tons of passages that talk about running hard for the Lord. Giving ourselves fully to Him & His glory. But how many verses talk invite us to intentionally strive to OUTDO our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in something?
Not a ton.
CHURCH LEADERS….many of us have that drive to compete don’t we? But how often do we find ourselves tempted to compete in ALL THE WRONG THINGS? And then we foolishly try to get our identity/confidence/security to how we think we are performing?
I may be missing it, but I can find no verses that say….
- Outdo one another in the size of your sunday worship service, or your small group
- Outdo one another in how creative and cutting edge you are
- Outdo one another in your online theological arguments
- Outdo one another in how many twitter followers you have
- Outdo one another in how big your beard is (sorry, that was a cheap shot, I’m just secretly jealous….I’m not allowed to grow one because Heather may be allergic to my face — see previous post for explanation)
But it does say…“Outdo one another in showing honor“
Imagine what God’s Kingdom would look like if we all took this verse more seriously.
What would our conversations/debates look like? (yes, we would still have debates)
What would our reputation be to those outside the church? How would it impact our cities & campuses?
How would it change how we speak, collaborate, & interact?
H2O….we have that drive to compete too, don’t we? But how often do we find ourselves tempted to compete in ALL THE WRONG THINGS? And then we foolishly try to get our identity/confidence/security to how we think we are performing?
These commands do not exist….
- Outdo one another in how many mtgs you show up to, or how often you lead them
- Outdo one another in how many Leadership Trainings you attend
- Outdo one another in how knowledgable you are about the latest blog/book/podcast in Christendom
- Outdo one another in how many deep theological conversations you have with Aziz
- Outdo one another in how spiritual you look to those around you
But it does say…“Outdo one another in showing honor”
Imagine what h2o would look like if we all took this verse more seriously.
In my upcoming posts I am going to share some more thoughts on this topic, but before we all jump to that, if any of you are still reading, do me a favor. Just take 30 seconds and stop.
And dream of how OUR lives might look different if we embraced this verse. If we applied some energy to a “competition” that was biblical & honoring to God.
I have found it very convicting.
PS Hey everyone, I have no idea who actually reads this stuff, but I’d love to hear how your thoughts on how our lives might look different if we embraced this verse. (if you are bold enough to share it with someone : ) Drop me a note sometime….