Honor One Another

June 28, 2008 John 13:1-17

 

Gene Getz has a friend-a worship leader and a pianist extraordinaire. His name is Brent Tallent, which brings a lot of interesting comments in view of his musical accomplishments.

Brent tells a rather humorous story about himself-which sets the stage beautifully for our study on this "one another" that states-"Honor one another above yourselves" (Rom. 12:I0).

When Brent was just a young man, a very well-known soloist came to his church, and he had the privilege of serving as her accompanist. He was excited, seeing this as an opportunity to demonstrate his skills at the keyboard. During the rehearsal, he proceeded to run his fingers up and down the keyboard in Liberace style while she sang the first stanza of her song.

Following this initial verse, she stopped, I looked at my friend, and said with a smile-"You know, Brent, I really make a wonderful accompanist for you" The light went on! Suddenly Brent saw what he had done! He was to be the accompanist! He was to support a soloist-never overshadowing and calling attention to his own skills. In short, he was to do everything he could to make her look and sound good.

Hearing this story helps you recognize a powerful metaphor that illustrates what it really means to honor others above ourselves. You see every Christian is to be "an accompanist" to every other Christian. We're all to make one another “look and sound good"!

My responsibility as a Christian-and yours too-is to look at others as more important than you at yourself. When we do, we'll be honoring others above ourselves!

CHRIST'S SUPREME EXAMPLE

  • Jesus Christ, when He walked on earth, set the supreme example in honoring others above Himself.
  • On one occasion, a short time before His death, He taught the disciples a powerful truth, which is also a great metaphor.
  • At an evening meal together, Jesus-knowing full well that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God,-filled a basin with water and stooped to wash His disciples' feet. After He had finished the task, He shared with them a lesson I'm sure they never forgot.

 "Do you understand," He asked, "what I have done for you?,'

Then He went on to answer His own question.

You call me 'Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:12-I5).

  • Is the command to serve or to wash others feet?
  • Is this a Pattern or a Principle?
  • It's common (although not universal) opinion that some Christians confuse principle and pattern in this story and believe that Jesus is teaching us to actually wash one another's feet in today's culture.
  • We certainly respect and admire Christians who practice this ancient custom as well as their desire to be obedient to Christ.
  • There is certainly freedom in Christ for any Christian to wash another Christian's feet. In fact it can be a powerful example.

EXAMPLPES OF HONORING

A Mark of True Humility

Getz tells of attending the pastors' conference in Atlanta, Georgia, sponsored by Promise Keepers. Over forty thousand ministers gathered to worship together and to be challenged to be faithful to our calling in Christ. Bishop Wellington Boone was preaching. Suddenly he stopped and turned to Tony Evans--a fellow pastor-who was seated on the platform. "Tony" he said, "I'm willing to wash your feet in order to serve you."

In a matter of minutes, something very spontaneous happened. Several men in the audience placed a makeshift container on the platform and filled it with a few bottles of water. They gave Wellington Boone a piece of cloth-probably some kind of T-shirt. He knelt before Tony Evans, removed his shoes and sock, and began washing his feet-all the time telling this brother in Christ that he loved him and wanted to serve him as a fellow pastor. I’ll never forget that example. This was a true mark of humility-and captured what Jesus had in mind when He told his disciples to serve and love one another (John 13:12-15, 34-35).

1John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Whatever your view on foot washing, we must never forget the message and principle Jesus was teaching. Though cultures change, though modes of transportation have evolved. and though most of us usually walk on sidewalks with shoes on our feet rather than sandals on dirty, dusty roads-there is one thing that has not changed!

Paul confirmed this when he said that we as Christians are to "honor one another above ourselves." This is what Jesus was illustrating in the foot-washing episode.

A MARK OF TRUE HONOR!

On another occasion, Jesus spelled out this truth even more clearly He took the religious leaders to task for their pride and arrogance.

Everything they do is done for men to see,

He said.

They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.

 Then Jesus turned to His disciples and drove home the lesson they had to learn if they were to be mature men of God who could be used in His service.

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:5-12).

  1. Jesus was speaking prophetically of himself when He said, "The greatest among you will be your servant!”
  2. Notice also that whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

PAUL'S DYNAMIC APPTICATION

The Apostle Paul, though he never sat at the feet of Christ while He taught on earth, learned to honor others.

He applied this truth in his own life, and he taught others to do the same. Thus he wrote to the Philippians: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5)

  • What was that attitude?
  • Paul carefully spelled it out Christ demonstrated toward all humankind the greatest act of unselfishness, humility, and self-sacrifice ever known in the universe.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:6-8)

The result of Christ's act of love and submission brought to Himself in essence the very same result He promised His disciples (in Mt. 25) if they would "honor others above themselves"-exaltation! This is what God did for Jesus Christ:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of, of God the Father (Phi]. 2:9-11).

  • Our personal exaltation will always be different from that of Christ's.
  • Nevertheless, God will exalt Christians who truly honor others above themselves. It may not be immediate, but it will happen- if not on earth, throughout all eternity, where it will really count.

Jesus Himself taught that

"many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first" (Matt. 19:30).

To make sure the Philippians understood what he meant by imitating Christ's attitudes and actions, he introduced this whole paragraph about Christ's act of humility and unselfishness by saying:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4).

  • Don't misunderstand! The Bible doesn't teach that we should not have our own interests. That would be impossible.
  • The very nature of life-rearing a family, making a living, competing in the workplace, and taking time for ourselves-demands that we look after our own interests.
  • However, the Bible does teach that we should "look not only" to our" own interests, but also to the interests of others."
  • It teaches us that we should "consider others better than ourselves."
  • We should not be motivated by self-centered motives and pride ("vain conceit").
  • Our goal should be to honor Jesus Christ first, others second, and ourselves third.
  • If we do, we will be honored in due time. As Jesus said, we cannot lose our lives without finding them again.

Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

PRACTICAL STEPS FOR APPLYING THIS PRINCIPTE TODAY

Step 1

Take a careful look at your "honoring others" quotient!

The following questions will help you:

  • How many situations can you recall where you purposely attempted to honor someone above yourself

What about yesterday? Last week? Last month?

  • In what ways did you reflect sincere appreciation for the other person?

At this point, be careful! We've all met "backslappers." They're opportunists-using the opportunity to exalt other as a means to exalt themselves. This is their ultimate goal. They're willing to "scratch our backs" if we'll "scratch theirs." Someone has said that they've revised the "Golden Rule"-to "Do unto others so they will do for you." This is definitely not what Paul had in mind when he told us to "honor one another above ourselves."

Step 2

Don't forget to honor those who have helped you become what you are

Often times those of who have attained position have conveniently "forgotten" who helped them, who believed in them, and who opened the doors of opportunity.

  • The facts are that all of us have gotten where we are with the help of others.

The Praying Hands 

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!

In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

Let me say it again! Don’t forget those who have helped you become what you are! When was the last time you thanked them?

Step 3

If it is difficult for you to compliment others and to enjoy their successes, take a close look at your walk with Christ.

The following check points will help:

  1. Some people cannot compliment others and enjoy their successes because they have always been the center of attention themselves.

For example, Jane is an only child and always had everything she wanted. Over the years she became self-centered. Now as an adult, she resorts back to that same pattern of getting everything she wants; this (sinful) attitude causes her to find it very difficult to ever compliment her husband. Rather, she tends to "compete" with him. Unfortunately, the problem is about to destroy her marriage.

This, of course, represents a serious spiritual problem and reflects immaturity and selfishness. This was the problem with the Corinthians. If this is your problem, confess your sin and reprogram your life. Memorize Philippians 2:3-4, and meditate on, his exhortations every day

Every time you're tempted to, hog the show, quote those verses to yourself. Ask God to bring them to your memory when you find yourself being tempted.

Closing Thoughts

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love-

Where there is injury pardon-

Where there is doubt, faith-

Where there is despair, hope-

Where there is darkness, light-

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled-as to console,

To be understood-as to understand,

To be loved-as to love

For

It is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

It is in doing that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi

This Week

Take some time to honor and affirm someone this week:

  1. Memorize Philippians 2:3-4.
  2. Choose one way you are going to honor someone this week. Come prepared to share what you have done.