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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Unity: honor one another above yourselves

“Honor one another above yourselves.”

Perhaps of all the instructions in the New Testament on how to live in response to the gospel, I have reinterpreted this one most frequently. For many years, I never understood how I could or why I should honor believers who were hurting me above myself.

There are always certain categories of people I struggle to accept. There are always certain habitual sins which I don’t understand. Ironically enough my very sin of refusing to honor others above myself is the one I find most hard to tolerate in other people. Be one of the kinds of people who thinks you are more spiritually mature than those of us who are in a twelve-step program, and I will struggle to view you as anything but a Pharisee. Make inane comments about who you perceive us to be, and historically I would shrug my shoulders in prayer to God and say, “No, I can’t honor someone who thinks that of me and my people above myself. They don’t deserve honor at all!”

In the last few weeks God has been talking to me a lot about my lack of honoring others. In order to get my attention, He did not prove how much worthier of honor they are than me. He didn’t tell me their sin was okay. He didn’t tell me that addicts who no longer deny their addictions are lower than others either. He simply pointed out to me that I was mocking Him. While my sin was hurting dozens of people around me, first and foremost it was mocking Him and the command He gave me.

Because of the message of the gospel, because of His amazing goodness, He urges me to live in selfless love. One of the ways to do this is to honor my siblings above myself. Not just when I feel like it. Not just when it makes sense to me. Nor just when they deserve it. But all the time.

Honestly, the knowledge that I was mocking God with my arrogance toward my brothers and sisters was enough to really sober me up in regards to this very habitual sin in my life. If I had to describe it with an analogy, think of an impetuous two-year-old whose earthly father finally takes her and physically sits her down hard on a chair, gets down on eye level with her, and says, “Let me tell you something, Daughter. Keep this up, and it will not go well with you!” Then deals out consequences for the little girl’s actions.

Did God deal out consequences for me? Aren’t I forgiven completely? Yes. Yes, I am; but there are still serious consequences for my actions on earth. The consequences for this sin are disunity in the Church and me living a life of sinful pride and so not selflessly loving those around me. It isn’t a punishment that these things happen as a result of my sin. It is a natural result of my actions. The wages of sin is always death. Selfish pride will never lead to life.

One of the devastating effects of this sin in my life has been that I begin to view fellow believers as enemies rather than part of a family that I am called to be unified with. I begin to treat them like enemies too. As I make this dangerous transition into disunity, I begin to talk about them like enemies as well. After all, if they are an enemy of myself and what I consider God’s purposes, then why should I protect their reputation? Why shouldn’t I try to work against them with my words?

I am realizing as I write this that you must think my life is pretty filled with sin. It is. God keeps showing me more and more of it. I am in the beginning of taking a very thorough moral inventory of my life. I hoped to be sincerely honest, but so far it has felt brutally honest.

And what is a moral inventory? It is to be sincerely honest as one takes a systematic and guided look at one’s own character. Every relationship is considered as one attempts to define which actions within the relationship are sinful. Priorities, body image, attitude and integrity are all looked at. And why would one do such a thing? Because one cannot repent of sin one stubbornly refuses to be aware of. So one who takes the twelve steps becomes humble enough to become aware, so as to be humble enough to repent of each sin in the months which follow.

Do we become perfect? No! Have you ever read this blog? I must be the most screwed up person on the face of this earth! But we do attempt to live life honestly in full knowledge of our shortcomings, so as to be fully aware of His grace.

So this moral inventory has started with God waking me up to my constant dishonoring of my spiritual family. It isn’t funny. It isn’t okay. If I don’t want to repent for my sake or for the sake of my siblings, then I should repent simply because He asks me to. And honestly, I will have to do it for the latter reason. This command kills my pride, and my pride loves to be proud. Give up my pride or reap the consequences of disunity? I have a choice. I want to choose to follow Him no matter how hard letting go of my pride is.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Do you think you are better than certain other believers? Do you struggle to honor people who struggle with certain sins? Or perhaps who have a certain skin color, body size, education level or ideological viewpoint? What do you need to do to repent of dishonoring those whom God has commanded you to love?

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