Perhaps, one might think it is difficult to give honor to someone whom we think doesn’t deserve it. It can be hard to treat someone with respect when they act disrespectfully. Who wants to give honor to someone who holds an opposing world view? Who wants to treat someone well who simply irritates you? Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NASB). Furthermore, Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NASB). That’s true spiritual warfare folks!
Have you considered that by giving honor to someone who has not been exactly honorable, you are extending mercy? You actually are revealing the love of the Father. By treating people with respect, you can actually help elevate them to a place of honor. It positions you to have access to their heart because they are more willing to listen to you than those who treat them with disrespect. If you have their ear, you may be able to gain their heart for Jesus. While it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin and convince them they need a Savior, we do co-labor with Him. If you want to harden someone’s heart, treat him or her disrespectfully. That disrespect influences others toward hell; not heaven! How honorable were you before meeting Jesus? This is where “judge not” comes into play.
James 1:27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (NASB). The King James Version renders the word orphan as “fatherless.” Generally, we tend to think of orphans in terms of those who lost their natural parents, or in this case their fathers. But let’s take this a step further.
Those who don’t have Jesus don’t have the Father. They are Fatherless.
They’re orphans, and those who are less than honorable have an orphan attitude (orphan spirit). They can’t help it because they cannot help themselves. Even some believers have the same attitude because they are clueless about their identity in Christ Jesus. They don’t know the ways of the Kingdom. Simply put, if you want to elevate people to a higher place, love them where they are at. Don’t wait to love them until they get into position; they’ll never reach it apart from love.
As believers, we are supposed to influence society.
Jesus went as far as to say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19, NASB). Without honor, it’s not going to happen. No matter what level you try to influence (individuals, neighborhoods, towns, cities, governments, etc.), by maintaining an oppositional posture (which includes the “us versus them” mentality), you will never do it. At least for the Kingdom of God. If we attack people because of ideology, they will go on the defensive. They’ll head the opposite direction when they see us coming. Worse still, we discredit God by not representing Him well. Attacking people in the name of defending the faith, opposing evil and wrongheaded worldviews is not mercy. Yes, speak the truth, but do it in love. That means you actually have to have their best interest at heart. What’s the goal, proving you’re right or winning souls? An unsaved soul will never have a Kingdom perspective. We need dialogue; not debate. There has to be a willingness on their part before people will actually listen to us.
Look at a couple of biblical examples: Joseph and Daniel. Both influenced nations by honoring those in authority. Because Joseph refused to retaliate against Potiphar and Pharaoh, God opened the door to him to rule over Egypt as Pharaoh’s right hand (read Genesis 37-50 for the complete story). Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar well, even though by virtue of conquering Israel, he more than likely killed members of Daniel’s family. He most certainly did his fellow countrymen. He treated the king with the utmost respect, and perhaps even love. If Daniel would have treated Nebuchadnezzar with contempt, he would have never influenced him. Read the book of Daniel and see how he interacted with those in authority in Babylon. There are righteous ways to combat ungodly worldviews and policies, but that’s another lesson in itself.
By extending honor, we are extending mercy.
When we act respectably, we extend mercy to those who need it, simply because we elevate them into a position they don’t deserve, just as we were elevated when we didn’t deserve it. That’s grace in action. Honoring those with whom we have difficulty requires the grace of God. His grace enables us to extend mercy, so ask for the help in the time of need. Remember, by honoring others, doors open to speak into their lives, whereby they find grace as the result of extended mercy. By that grace, they can be transfigured into vessels of honor. This is especially true for the lost to whom we are called to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We triumph over their sin by extending mercy, and bring them into an honorable place.
When people embrace a culture of dishonor, they cease to have influence for the Kingdom of God.
They become irrelevant in society. Likewise, any body of believers that sets itself in a place of superiority will be incapable of furthering the Kingdom. Those who practice dishonor hinder the mission of the Church. We have seen churches dismantled because of divisive members who failed to give honor where honor was due. Knowledge became an idol to a number of congregants, and as a result, pride took over. It blinded the eyes of their heart, which in turn, caused them to lose their First Love. Without realizing it, they failed to love others and became self-centered. When leadership failed to “perform” according to their knowledge of the scriptures, the whisperings began. Murmuring rose up against those whom the Lord placed in authority, followed by division and collapse. This is how dishonor influences a church.
Anyone who claims to be a Christian, yet dishonors people, dishonors the King. Firstly, people are made in the image of God and belong to Him. When a person insults people, in essence, he insults God. James 3:8-10But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10. from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way (NASB). Secondly, a Christian is supposed to be Christ-like, and when he isn’t, he misrepresents Jesus. How many times have you heard the phrase, “I thought he was supposed to be a Christian”? If we are the only Bible non-believers read, and we are anything but Christ-like, how can we expect anyone to want anything to do with Him? By running around judging everyone for their “bad behavior,” we’ll never reveal Jesus nor our loving Father to them. Dishonor pushes people away. While on earth, Jesus went about doing good without accusing others. It’s not our job to convict sinners. That one belongs to the Holy Spirit. Don’t forget that God judges those outside the Church (see 1 Corinthians 5:13). Our job is to love them, and seek their reconciliation to the Father (see 2 Corinthians 5:19-20).
When a group of believers (church, denomination, “stream,” –whatever name applies) decide they are the only ones doing it right, dishonor is ready to explode. That kind of arrogance has brought much harm to the Body of Christ. There are some groups who have nothing to do with others, even though they serve the same Lord. In the same way, the Gospel has even been hindered in the mission field. There are missionaries who will not work with others in the same region, simply because they are not from the same organization. Jesus said they they will know we are His by our love. When groups are more concerned about growing their little kingdoms, the Kingdom suffers. The Lord is calling His Church to be kingdom-minded. By the way, it is His Church! As long as believers fail to love each other and refuse to network, they will fail to influence communities and nations on the scale Jesus desires.
These are some traits of dishonor; however, not everyone fits into this category.
The Church is starting to wake up. Believers are learning to honor one another; in fact, they are learning the importance of honoring those outside the church as well. There are congregations working together. We aren’t there yet, but there is a movement taking place. Pray that love prevails, and honor displaces dishonor.
Let’s step outside the Church for a moment.
Question: how can we hope to influence those in government by attacking those in government? If you publically criticize someone in office, do you think he or she would be willing to listen to you? Even on the local level, it would be possible to lose influence with everyday citizens by the posture we take. It’s not that we come into agreement with ungodly policies, but we should understand our fight is not against politicians and political factions. Therefore, we may need to adjust our focus and the way we combat unrighteousness. It’s important to not fall into the trap of celebrating dishonor. By walking in the Spirit and displaying the fruit of the Spirit, we can actually tear down the barriers of pride and prejudice, and assault the actual enemy.
Some might say, “I don’t celebrate dishonor.” Are you sure? In the political realm, when your candidate of choice stuffed his or her opponent, what did you feel? When a pundit took a government official to the woodshed, did you rejoice? Grandstanding dishonors no one. Do you find yourself criticizing and insulting political figures when discussing politics? Okay, perhaps you don’t discuss politics. Maybe it’s sports or social issues. Whatever arena you converse in, how do you react or respond to opposing views? When it’s all said and done, do people say, “I thought you were supposed to be a Christian? You could have fooled me.” We’ll never impact others for Jesus by attacking them. Start asking God for the wisdom needed to fight ungodliness and influence others for His glory.
It’s not very often that I share on a personal level when writing blogs. Nonetheless, I felt led to share an experience I had while reading a news headline on our computer. There was an article that said a particular sports figure was booed at the Super Bowl: “Click to listen.”
As I read the headline, I sensed the Lord say to me, “They’re celebrating dishonor.”
It gave me pause, especially since I could feel both grief and displeasure. No, I didn’t click on the link. This thing has been marinating in my heart all week. I really believe the Father’s intention is to bring us an acute awareness of His children celebrating dishonor, and how it displeases Him.
1 Peter 2:17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king (NASB). Clearly the Bible says to honor all people. Obviously, secular society could care less, and does in fact, embrace a culture of dishonor in many arenas of life. Unfortunately, it has crept into parts of the Church in subtle and not so subtle ways. Granted, it’s easy as believers to be swept into conversations that are less than honorable toward others. Wherever people gather there is a likelihood certain discussions will lead to berating others. It doesn’t matter if you talk sports; politics; business; social issues, or even church, negativity is going to erupt. The Lord is calling us to guard our hearts. We must put evil speaking far from us. The Word does say to speak evil of no one. “No one” means no one! We are not simply talking about political correctness, which is the counterfeit of true biblical honor. It is important for us to purpose to honor others.
[bctt tweet="Political correctness is a counterfeit of true biblical honor."]
It’s easy to justify our thoughts, words and actions based upon ideology. For example: if I disagree with another’s point of view, it would be easy to shift into “attack mode.” I might say I’m addressing his point of view, but would I be totally honest? Healthy discussions are done in love. If you separate love from the conversation, you’ll find dishonor knocking at the door.
Similarly, one of the things plaguing the Church is believers putting theology ahead of love.
There are divisions in the Church because of doctrinal differences. It’s no wonder the Bible talks about doctrines of men and demons. What would happen if we were more interested in loving one another? What would the Church look like if we celebrated one another regardless of some theological points of view? If we gather in love, the true doctrine of Christ will come forward, while the debates cease. Have you ever looked at someone as not being a “genuine Christian” because he or she doesn’t believe exactly as you? Perhaps, you tend to shun those who don’t belong to a particular denomination; or conversely, oppose those who are in a denomination. Where’s the honor in that? Is not the Church also the family of God? If you’re going to honor Him, you’ll honor His children as well.
Sometimes people forget just how patient the Father is with His children, and even sinners. He already made room for us to grow up in Christ Jesus even before the beginning of time. He knew then what we would face, the thoughts we would have, the decisions we would make, and the things we would do. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Because He knows all things ahead of time, you cannot disappoint Him. Because He loves us, He made provision for all of our failures. Truly, His grace is sufficient for us. It would be safe to say that the vast majority of believers have at least one thing they deeply regret doing. Something that they struggled to let go of, and walk with a clear conscience. More than likely, some of you are still wrestling with your past. God is generous with His mercy and grace. In His mercy, He forgave you. His grace enables you to think differently (repent), and move forward. What does that mean? He wants you to move forward, especially since Jesus paid the price for what took place. You’ve wanted to be free and clear. Well, be free and clear in the Name of Jesus!
2 Peter 3:3-4Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4. and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (NASB). We just read that there would scoffers in the last days; even so, 2 Peter also reveals God’s patience with the sinner, and expresses His desire for him or her to repent (see 2 Peter 3:5-9). How patient are you with sinners, especially the ones who mock the Gospel? Do you desire them to repent or burn? It’s easy to want to be right and prove them wrong. “They’ll find out when the time comes!” Is that what we really want for them? Shouldn’t we prefer they come to Jesus, and be saved from the wrath to come?
One way to know if you walk in love is by the desire you have for others.
Okay, lets get down to it. As Christians, it can be easy to be indignant with those who behave badly, and have less than holy lifestyles. It doesn’t take much to become self-righteous. You know, “They’re going to burn for that,” or perhaps, “He’s going to be held accountable for his actions!” Really? Wouldn’t it be better to throw them a lifeline? When you struggled with sin, you desired mercy. Weren’t you given it? God had compassion on you, and He has compassion for sinners as well. When someone wants someone to pay for their actions, isn’t that a form of unforgiveness?
As you may recall, our struggle is not with flesh and blood (i.e., people); it’s against the spirits behind the corruption (see Ephesians 6:12). People have been ensnared by the devil. They have been trapped by lust. In short, they’re stuck in their sin with no way out apart from Jesus Christ. Does compassion for them rise up in your heart? If not, something is wrong. You cannot say you love God and hate people. It’s not congruent. 1 John 4:20If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (NASB). Beware of bitterness toward others. Jesus was moved by compassion. He recognized people were hurting. Their lifestyles reflected the broken relationship with the Father. Those without God the Father are orphans. They don’t know true love. They need compassion. They need us. They need you!