Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10 NIV).

"You've got to be kidding me!" the man said as he took in the implications of the verse he just read. His counselor was shocked that someone steeped in church-going would react so negatively to a passage of Scripture. But this guy didn't hold back!

"So I'm supposed to think of someone else before I consider my own needs? Whoa! Don't you know it's the 21st century? Come on, that kind of thing is for losers... wimps... mamby pamby momma's boys who don't have the guts to stand up for themselves. Don't you know that nice guys finish last!"

While few would be so brazen to actually say these critical words about Scripture, most of our world believes them — even those who give lip service to them in church. And believe it or not, I've actually had several people share sentiments similar to those quoted above. All around us is an insatiable need to get noticed, feel important, have my way, and be accommodated. Don't believe me? Look at what passes today for "reality TV"! I'm not sure we have found anything that someone won't do for their fifteen minutes of fame or to have their personal YouTube video go viral.

God's call for us is to love and honor others above ourselves (Romans 12:10), to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39), and in everything we are to do for others as we would want them to do for us (Matthew 7:12). Unfortunately, they can be little more than slogans to put on the walls of our homes if we don't embrace the Lord's challenge to make these principles true in our lives.

When you peak into our homes, workplaces, driving spaces, politics, and churches, we find great wastelands of self-interest, rivalry, bitterness, division, gossip, and spite. We seem to feed off of these kinds of things as consumers, looking for the latest tasty morsel about some celebrity meltdown at the checkout counters at the grocery store and celebrity gossip TV shows. We laugh as we see the quick-tongued attacking sarcasm that cuts down others — supposedly family and friends — in our favorite sitcoms. We catch ourselves dwelling on what "smart" thing we could have said in response to someone's sarcastic comment about us. And to our dismay, we find ourselves gossipping about someone that is part of our church family.

So in our secular culture of selfishness and cynicism let's hear God's call to create a culture of honor. Let's build a culture of strong and determined people who reflect God's righteous character and redemptive grace in the way that we love and honor others.

First, we passionately believe that building a culture of honor — in our homes, workplaces, organizations, politics, and churches — is not only possible, but also necessary. We believe that as followers of Jesus, we must be the salt and light in a world of decay and darkness.

Second, we commit to the work necessary to build a culture of honor in our homes, jobs, organizations, communities, and churches. Over the next five weeks, we will make five crucial moves to join God in his work of building a culture of honor in these places.

Third, as we take this five week journey, we're going to do three things together:

  • We're going to read Romans 12 each week at least three times each week — slowly, carefully, using different translations to hear the Holy Spirit calling us to be God's culture of honor.
  • We're going to pray that the Father will use the Holy Spirit to transform us to be more like Jesus as we offer ourselves to his work of being his people of righteous character and redemptive grace.
  • We are going to put into practice what we learn from the Scriptures that will help us begin this work of transformation.

Our world is starving for genuine, loving, relationships where human dignity is honored, spiritual development is encouraged, and life's pain is comforted through the voices and hands of loving people. Nearly everyone with whom I speak yearns for a safe harbor from life's combative environments, cutting words, and constant put downs. All of us need a place of encouragement and affirmation to propel us to become all God has creating us to be. So we will, by God's grace, create a culture of honor in the places and with the people our lives touch!

This is what God says a culture of honor looks like:

Love others well, and don't hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it. Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord. Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. Share what you have with the saints, so they lack nothing; take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.If people mistreat or malign you, bless them. Always speak blessings, not curses. If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest; instead, embrace common people and ordinary tasks. Do not retaliate with evil, regardless of the evil brought against you. Try to do what is good and right and honorable as agreed upon by all people. If it is within your power, make peace with all people. Again, my loved ones, do not seek revenge; instead, allow God's wrath to make sure justice is served. Turn it over to Him. For the Scriptures say, "Revenge is Mine. I will settle all scores." But consider this bit of wisdom: "If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; because if you treat him kindly, it will be like heaping hot coals on top of his head." Never let evil get the best of you; instead, overpower evil with the good (Romans 12:9-21 The Voice).

For more on the series, Building a Culture of Honor see the following posts: