“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10
How far short we fall in obedience to Romans 12:10. Kindly affectioned? Yes, we can do that, but preferring others before ourselves? No, that’s more difficult. By nature, we are self-interested and self-absorbed, which often places us at odds with meeting others’ needs and desires. How hard it is to drop whatever it is we’re doing to make ourselves available to someone else!
What is on your priority list? Does your list reflect your devotion to the needs of others, or does it demonstrate how busy you are taking care of your own needs? Busy-ness tends to rob us of opportunities to demonstrate our love for others. We usually have wonderful intentions to spend time with our family and friends, but we get sidetracked, and the moment is lost. Schedules conflict, and soon, relationships become distant; suffering from neglect. Contact is broken and ultimately lost.
Relationships must be nurtured to survive. That means we must spend time connecting with each other. Connection must be meaningful and honest. Working together, talking together, praying together, studying God’s Word together, enjoying fellowship together–all these aid in fostering a meaningful connection. But, did you know that you can do all these things, and still not be “preferring one another?”
Performing acts of kindness is wonderful, but it isn’t necessarily love. Love demands more depth. Scripture reminds us in Mark that we are to love Him and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves:
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
How do you demonstrate your love for yourself?? First Corinthians gives us some clues about how love should manifest itself:
“Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, charity never faileth…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Love is characterized by humility and servitude. Preferring others means putting aside our own desires and needs, and elevating another to a value greater than ourselves.
“So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15
Our Lord Jesus demonstrated His love for us by dying on a cross. True love is motivated by a genuine compassion for another. It is characterized by selflessness.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
Jesus commands us to love others as He has loved us. Take a moment and think about all the ways that Jesus demonstrates His love. Sometimes we fail to recognize His work in our lives. It is good when we can write down His blessings. Our faith is bolstered when we recognize that He is active in our lives.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35
Our Lord knows that loving others is not natural for us puny humans, hence the command. He also knows that we humans can be very unlovable. Yet, He expects and demands that we prefer others over ourselves, and that we love them as well as we do ourselves. That’s a tough order, but in Him it is possible. When you seek to be like Jesus, He will mold you and shape you so that you are capable of being like Him. You will find that you become softer and sweeter. What is unnatural will become second nature. The result is that others will see your love and compassion, and marvel at how different you are from the ordinary. God’s children are never ordinary, but extraordinary! Your life of servitude in love will mark you as one of His.
“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:25-26