Second Fiddle

It seems odd that Paul wrote to the Roman church telling them to “outdo” one another. When I’ve ever wanted to outdo someone, it’s usually because I want attention or I want to be better at something. Basically, it was about me and me and me.

But the outdoing Paul wants us to do is not that kind. Romans 12:10 in the ESV says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Other versions say “honor others above yourselves” or “take delight in showing honor.”

The kind of outdoing Paul tells us to do goes against the kind of outdoing we’re used to doing. Instead of outdoing each other in seeking honor, Paul urges us to outdo one another in showing honor.

Jesus gives us an example of what seeking honor looks like. He warns his disciples about what they see some of the religious leaders doing in Matthew 23.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

Before we start feeling good about ourselves because we think we don’t do this, stop. We’ve all done it and do it, only without the phylacteries and tassels. We brag and gloat and work hard for people to see all the good stuff in our lives. This happens on playgrounds, in school cafeterias and on basketball courts. It happens on news discussion panels, in political speeches, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It happens at home, work, the gym and church. Wherever any number of people are gathered, physically or virtually, this can happen.

My favorite translation of verse 10 of Romans 12 is from the Message. The last part of the verse says, “practice playing second fiddle.”

Just think how much would change if we practiced this.

What a difference between seeking honor and showing honor! The difference can mean changed lives and restored relationships. Better marriages, life-giving friendships, less conflict at work, peace and joy.

Unfortunately, I tend to seek it more than show it, but with God’s help, I will get better and better at the best kind of outdoing.

To find out more about Monday School, go here.

Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Downtown

Most of my Mondays are spent in the historic downtown area of a nearby city. The office of the non-profit where I volunteer is there. Until the beginning of the year I’d only driven through the downtown area a few times and now it’s one of my favorite places.

Every two hours we have to move our cars or put more change in the meters which gives me a chance to enjoy a few walks during the day. I love seeing the people on the streets, some in their business attire walking briskly to make an appointment on time, some taking a stroll enjoying the sights, a couple walking their dogs, a young athlete getting her run in, or those lingering at the outdoor tables after a nice lunch.

I especially enjoy walking past all the old churches. They’re magnificent. The downtown area is dense with old churches like this Methodist church. It was originally built in the early 1800s but was burned down during the Civil War when Federal troops were quartered in the basement. The church burned down due to an act of carelessness. The troops built fires on the wooden floors to cook their food. But with courage and faith the congregation rebuilt the church and finished it in 1868. Several additions have been completed since then.

I walk past other churches too. Another Methodist church, Catholic, Episcopal and a Baptist one too.

If I’m having an exceptionally good Monday, my walks happen at the same time the church bells ring. I’m not sure which churches are ringing the bells but oh what a joyful noise it is!

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!”  Psalm 100:1