Christians are the only species on the planet that is free. The identity of a Christian is settled. The world’s way is to fight for personal glory that comes from comparison with other people. What’s worse is that this comparison is mostly of outward appearance, compelling humans to break their backs keeping up with the Joneses.
But the Christian identity comes from God. We understand something. We are intrinsically equal to everyone else as image-bearers. We are totally depraved in our flesh until we are saved completely by Christ alone so that there is no boasting whatsoever (Ro 3:27). We know that we have a lot of growing to do, but that the comparison game is over. We know that God has a plan for us to become like his Son, and it is only by his Holy Spirit that we will be able to do that. We know that it is only by God’s grace that we are where we are.
And identity is the foundation for “honoring one another above yourselves.” It costs nothing. It honors God. It cultivates humility. We can be “devoted to one another” because it is “in love,” God’s love. There is no ulterior motive in our devotion, only a command to obey.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Romans 12:10
#1 “Be devoted to one another…”
What does devotion look like? It means commitment, being there. Perhaps one way to obey this command would be to find a local church and commit to the people in it. Commit to doing life together so that you can care for one another. See your brothers and sisters in Christ-like your family.
#2 “…in love.”
The love of God is the grounds for this commitment. Even in the Church, the temptation would be to use love and service as a means to control people or to gain selfishly. But if the love of God, demonstrated by Christ on the cross (1 Jn 3:16) is our foundation for how we treat others, the devotion can be selfless. When two people are full of the love of God and committed to one another, there is great power.
#3 “Honor one another above yourselves.”
All Christian relationships, even those we have with unbelievers, are meant to be horizontal, not vertical. Even leadership is not meant to be hierarchical as the world thinks of it (Mk 10:42-45). Honoring another above yourself is not because you think you are so horrible and low, which would be only a form of pride, but rather because this person in front of you bears the image of your Father. Your own identity is settled, so you are left able to obey God’s command to honor other people above yourself.