Romans 12:10 | How to Outdo Everyone

“Hold my beer…” is a joke that is usually followed by someone doing something terribly stupid. Alcohol does impair judgment and matched with the nature of people wanting to one up someone else leaves us with a result that is going to be cringe worthy. The idea of trying to outdo others or be in constant competition for attention is not what God wants for us. Social media is like this. We see pictures of our online friends with the perfect trip or the perfect dog or the perfect family and so we want to outdo others or at least try to attain what they have. Outdoing others is madness so when I read Paul in Romans telling the Church to outdo one another he has my attention.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV

Paul wants us to love others in a family way and in a genuine way and then he pairs that with “Outdo one another in showing honor”. If one looks at the various translations of Romans 12:10 they are all over the place and one of the reasons is that Paul uses a Greek word that is not used anywhere else in the Bible. That word προηγέομαι (proēgeomai) creates the image or idea of one person giving deference or humbly preparing a way for someone else who will have the attention. So, this lifestyle that Paul wants for the church is that we would complete not to gain over someone else but that we would humble ourselves, that we would outdo one another in shrinking our egos.

35 The next day again John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. John 1:35-37 ESV

The idea that we would give up or moment of glory or that we would give way to allow someone else to have attention is the exact opposite of Hollywood, journalist, and politicians. All of that group fights to get their share of the attention. So now imagine this situation where John the Baptist has a growing ministry. He has followers and he has groups of people coming to hear him speak. John the Baptist sees Jesus walking in the streets. John sees this Jesus before Jesus has gained any followers or made a mark in the world. John tells his disciples that guy over there… He is the one. John starts losing followers.

Now the human reaction would be to want to hang onto what was built and worked for. John the Baptist has social influence and attention yet now he is going to lose some of that to this other upstart? Those two disciples that John had worked to attain where great disciples also. One of them is Andrew who becomes one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Andrew’s brother is Peter one of the two disciples that made up the inner circle of disciples. The second disciple that John the Baptist lost that day is John. The author of the gospel of John and the disciple that Jesus loved the most.

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:25-30 ESV

John the Baptist outdoes everyone is understanding how to decrease and humbly defer. He leaves us with the profound point that we all must decrease so that Christ may increase. Following Christ is no easy thing in a world where everyone wants to increase in stuff, increase in wealth, increase in power, increase in lust, and increase attention. Following Christ means that we set aside our own glory, die to ourselves, and worship Christ because his glory is greater than anything we can achieve on our own.