Every Tuesday evening for many years, Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, hosted an event we called Immanuel Theology for Men. During the first hour, I (Ray) taught the men the Bible and robust theology. We plowed through the book of Romans, for example, teaching more than preaching. It was interactive, thoughtful, and fun.
After a time of confession and accountability, we’d all come together again in the last half hour for “honor time.” That was when the men would openly and sincerely work to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).
This is what the gospel does. Specifically, the doctrine of glorification helps us to create a culture of honor. How does this work?
God’s Glorious Purpose: Show Honor
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, we see a surprising reality: God isn’t out merely to make us nicer. His heart is set on making us glorious forever. God’s grace comes down from above and redefines our future with bold expressions like “glory and honor and immortality” (2:7), “the glory of the children of God” (8:21), “the redemption of our bodies” (8:23), and “those whom he justified he also glorified” (8:30).
The touchdown God plans to score for us is nothing less than our glorification with Christ, our glorification to be like Christ in a sparkling new universe forever. So it’s no surprise that he intends for our glorious future to brighten up our dreary present. Paul urges us, “Outdo one another in showing honor” (12:10). This is far more than niceness; it’s dignity, respect, gratitude, and esteem. And as we learn to see one another with gospel-illuminated eyes, how could it be otherwise?
The touchdown God plans to score for us is nothing less than our glorification with Christ.
Strikingly, the command of Romans 12:10 isn’t merely to honor one another but to outdo one another in showing honor. It’s competitive (and everyone wins). The hope of the gospel frees our hearts from a brooding self-focus that leaves us with nothing to give to others. Instead, we look around at one another, and we come alive to “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
See the Glory in One Another
Here’s how it looked during “honor time.” I’d briefly explain Romans 12:10 as I have above, and then I’d open it up to the guys. Immediately, men raised their hands and jumped right into affirming, thanking, and recognizing one another in true and significant ways. One guy might say to another, right out in front of everyone,
Jim, I honor you because last Friday night when I texted you and told you I wanted to go back to pornography, you called me immediately and talked me off that cliff. You didn’t have to call. But you did. And it took 20 minutes. But I couldn’t have made it through without you. Dude, I honor you!
Like that. The vibe in the room was powerful. It was the gospel the men experienced together. By 9:00 each Tuesday evening, men had been taught and men were honored. It didn’t take long until sarcastic put-downs were unthinkable.
When we see the glory in one another, gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture where men and women, with no gimmicks and no hype, dare to believe the reality of their salvation so deeply that they build a community of honor together, and it flavors an entire church. The good news of our glorification comes down vertically to us and spreads out horizontally among us. As a result, we start treating one another like royalty.
The good news of our glorification comes down vertically to us and spreads out horizontally among us.
Why not give ourselves permission to see the other Christians right around us with gospel eyes? Let’s marvel at them—what they are in Christ and what they will be in glory. We don’t have to pretend. All we must do is believe the gospel and let its hope-inspiring promise set the tone of our relationships.
Let’s defy whatever petty and unworthy barriers hold us back. Let’s allow the doctrine of glorification to create a culture of honor wherever we live, for as long as we live. It might start feeling like revival.