A Lesson in Honor from Romans 12
By Heidi Jo Fulk
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:1-2
We can learn a lot about honor in Romans 12. This chapter opens with two well-known verses about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God and being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then in the verses that follow, we see some practical working out of that sacrificial, transformed way of life.
1. We shouldn’t think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12:3).
This is the starting place for understanding and rightly orienting our thoughts and expectations about honor. If I am thinking highly of myself, then I am going to expect to be honored. I also may not consider if I am thinking, acting, and speaking in an honorable way if I am self-centered in my thinking. Likewise, I may only give honor if I feel people deserve it.
2. Remember we all have different gifts and strengths (Rom. 12:4–8).
These verses are addressing the Body of Christ and the way each believer’s gifts and strengths work together for the building up of the kingdom. All have been given grace (v. 6), but how that grace is displayed in each individual’s life is different.
There is no better or worse, greater than or less than here. We’re not talking about worth, because every person’s worth—whether a believer or unbeliever—is established in being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 6:26). Rather we see a picture of parts working together as a whole for the glory of God.
3. Let love be genuine (Rom. 12:9).
Love is to mark us. It is to be real. It does not begin with us, but rather is fueled by love from God to us. His love is real, so ours can be too even when it is only a choice and not also a feeling. 4. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9).
Clearly, we are instructed to hate evil and cling to good. But it is vital to remember this comes directly after we are instructed to love genuinely. This means that as we detest evil, we must do it in a way that shows a motivation of true love for the individual. It does not mean that because someone has acted or spoken sinfully that it’s okay for us to call that out in a dishonorable or tactless way.
This could apply to both personal or public settings. Our aim should not be to shame or repay evil for evil. Our aim instead should be to honorably, appropriately, and clearly address sin and evil in a way that helps people to come to an understanding of their sin so that they may find the forgiveness and redemption of Christ.
For more lessons read on!
Heidi Jo Fulk desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.