Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10 NIV)
Jonathan Jones, an art critic on The Guardian, has written that In late 19th- and early 20th-century France the paintings of [J.M.W.] Turner hovered in the imaginations of artists from Monet to Matisse, who learned from them how colour could be expressive, atmospheric, even abstract.
He goes on to describe Turner as the man who invented modern painting.
The Late Turner exhibition, held at the Tate Britain between September 2014 and January 2015, was the first exhibition devoted to the work he created between 1835 and his death in 1851.
It went under the sub-title Painting Set Free.
Wandering round the exhibition I could see what this critic was referring to: Some of Turners work was lively, vibrant and vigorous. Many concentrated on the use of colour, others were detailed and meticulous. Some were realistic, others abstract, and the atmospheric ones drew you into the scene.
Undoubtedly he was a great artist.
As I reflected on the exhibition I thought about the great artists of history.
Ask them to paint a subject and each one would no doubt have produced something quite different.
Some would see the whole thing; others concentrate on a single detail. To one an accurate representation would be important, to another it would be the impression that counts.
None of the artwork would necessarily be wrong as each one gave a different viewpoint, a personal reaction to what they were asked to paint.
Isnt this like life?
We all see things a bit differently. We each react in our own way.
Being different doesnt necessarily mean were wrong, or that someone else is. Were just concentrating on different bits of the whole picture.
Just as we can appreciate the skills and talents of different artists, who can come up with such varied interpretations of the same subject, wouldnt it be good if we were less dogmatic, less judgmental, and less harsh with other people?
Maybe they too have a glimpse of the truth and maybe its as valid as ours.
Wouldnt it be good to take time to listen to other people while trying to understand where they are coming from?
To my mind that would be a good practical application of what Paul was writing about in Romans 12:10.
Other translations bring out different nuances to what Paul wrote: Todays English Version says, Be eager to show respect for one another. The English Standard Version says, Out do one another in showing honor.
As we listen to the perspectives of other people in a spirit of understanding we are showing respect and honour. It shows that we can place them above ourselves (c.f. NIV) and are practicing playing second fiddle. (The Message)
Paul says we are to be eager and out do one another in treating people like this.
If we follow his advice we will then be set free to Be devoted to one another in love (V 10 NIV)
Father, help me to appreciate the perspective of other people and to have the grace to show respect and honour in love to all.
Have a good week being set free to love one another.