“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)
These instructions come to us in the midst of similar instructions. At first glance, we are tempted to think context offers us no additional insights. But let’s look again anyway at the immediate context:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:9-11)
See it now? Again we have a careful balance between truth and love: Being sincere, real, loathing evil/sin, doing good–but also loving one another as much as we love our natural siblings, but competitively seeking to one up each other only in terms of preferring each other before our selves, serving one another, and showing respect for one another (all being tied up in the concept of honor as I understand it.) We are not to be lazy in our pursuit of God, but fiery hot, even shining or glowing in our spirit as we serve the lord. (Thank you, m-w.com)
Again, as we noted in a similar passage from James, Paul treats the qualities we associate with those too heavy on truth as the book ends of love, wrapping love inside truth in a way that suggests these should all be inseparable qualities held together as a whole, not one side barking at the other. Truth isn’t true without love; and love isn’t loving without truth.
Lord, strengthen us, to be truthful in our expressions of love and loving in our handling of the truth. Grant us grace to love our spiritual family with the affection we have for our natural family. Check us in our spirits, and change our hearts, that we should strive and compete against each other only in how we lay our arms down and seek what is best for the other person, the rest of the family, first before ourselves. Deliver us from fear. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.