You have great value to me

Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. (Romans 12:9-10)

God desires a way of living that is "outside" or beyond our selfishness - the tendency we had before we said "yes" to Christ which kept us totally self-directed in our focus. Be sincere in your love for others. Sincerity is the idea of being free of hypocrisy. If you have ever caught yourself saying one thing, but thinking another, you might be dealing with this thing called hypocrisy - the tendency to be ingenuine or unreal. Neither of these traits are what God wants for us in relationships - first with him, then with others. He strives for us to be genuine or real.

We are to be genuine in our love for each other, by hating evil, holding tight to what is good, treating one another as brothers and sisters, and giving honor to each other more than we focus on seeking honor for ourselves.  We are to work toward a "protectiveness" of the relationship, guarding against those things which hinder the depth and closeness of relationship. Nothing will shut a relationship down quicker than for anger, malice, or wickedness to gain an inroad into the midst of it. We are to do more than just be "intolerant" of these things - we are to be so vigilant to guard against them that we just WON'T allow them to have an inroad. When anger enters, we are to immediately stop, take notice of what is being said or demonstrated in each other's actions, and then bring reconciliation immediately. This is the principle of not letting the sun go down on our anger. Just think of how much different our relationships would be if we were to begin to operate in this framework! When ill-intent is evident, conflict will arise. As with anger, there is to be an increasing "vigilance" to avoid all manner of ill-intent.

We are to run after the things which produce good outcomes in the relationship.  Those things which increase our moral foundation. Whenever we build one another up in the faith, we are fulfilling this task, leading to us loving each other as we'd love a brother or sister. We are learning to see each other as belonging to the same "bloodline". Those who are part of the family of God share a similar "heritage" as we do. As such, we are to enter into companionable relationship with those in this journey of faith. It means we need each other! We cannot walk it alone. We actually benefit from the closeness of seeing another walk out their faith - in the daily, rubber meets the road kind of way. God is reminding us of being cognizant of those who are "partners" with us in this walk. We don't always "get along" well, but we do grow from the interactions and see love become the driving force which binds us together.

The last reminder is to honor one another more than we do ourselves. This is a tough one, as you might imagine, because each of us tends to focus on self quicker than we focus on others. If we see something in them which is a complimentary skill or trait to what we possess, this might be something we "honor" in them. It might also mean we give some merit to another individual which they wouldn't receive otherwise. I think there are a whole lot of people today just walking around looking for someone to give them some merit - because their lives have been filled with all kinds of things labeled as "demerits"! I don't know where the "demerits" came from, or even if they were deserved, but I do know many individuals focus on those "negative" things they have been told or come to believe about themselves. When we are in relationship with each other, we have this unique ability to focus on either side of the column, so to speak. The choice to focus on those things which are of "merit" in a person's life is something we need to learn to do more often!  Just sayin!

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