Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

The Message puts it this way, “practice playing second fiddle.” Once I had a pastor who would often quote Spurgeon and say, “It takes more grace than tongue can tell to play the second fiddle well.”

In an orchestra, the first violins play the melody line while the second violins play harmony. The first violins play the significant part while the second violins fill in the background to give the music depth and volume. Both are important but it’s the first violins who are more prominent.

In life, it’s tempting to aspire to play “first violin,” but the challenge that Paul presents us with in this verse is to play “second violin.” There are many times when it’s more important to play for harmony and let others be the focus. This isn’t easy to do unless we feel secure in our relationship with God.

Immediately prior to Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (and thus playing second fiddle) John tells us that, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal …” (John 13:3-4). It was because Jesus knew who he was and the purpose of God for his life that he was able to take a lowly role and wash the disciples’ feet.

If we don’t understand our value to God and his purpose for our lives, taking on a servant’s role can turn us into a doormat which isn’t God’s intention. As Spurgeon points out it takes grace “to play the second fiddle well.” Only as assured recipients of God’s grace can we honour others above ourselves.