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.
The motivation of love is the benefit of others. It has no hidden agendas, as it is not self-centered. God Himself models love and its operations. He is Most Holy and the Most Holy is Love, therefore, love must be central in all that we think and do. Love takes joy in the recipient for the recipient’s sake alone, which underscores that it has no ulterior motives.
One of the ways that the Father expresses His love is by the invitation to join His family. That invitation was signed in the Blood of Jesus, with the purpose of reconciling us onto Himself. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and that means it cost Him dearly (see John 3:16). Has it occurred to you that this reconciliation was also a great act of humility?
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (KJV). Jesus humbled Himself, left His rightful place and served humanity. He died knowing that not everyone would accept the invitation. He freely gave, and forces no one to receive His Precious Gift. We are to be conformed to His image. That means because of love, we should humble ourselves as well.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation (KJV). God loves reconciliation. He loves family and loves His children to love one another. If we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments, and He commands us to love one another. In our love, we will serve each other as unto Him. Likewise, we will seek to reconcile others unto God. One of the ways to express the love of God to others is by expressing our love one to another. When we, as the Church, walk in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, we express a love for which people are starving. They are ready to receive this same love when they see it in action. Unfortunately, when they see us fussing and fighting with each other they run in the opposite direction.
James 3:14-18 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace (KJV).
If we truly want people to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we are going to have to get our act together with each other. This calls for great humility that is driven by love. That love begins with God as our First Priority. If we are God-centered; we will not be self-centered. God is the only One right; nevertheless, He does not insist on being right. In His humility, He sought to make us right through Jesus. As long as we “have to be right,” we will be wrong because we are not walking in love. Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (KJV). Denying ourselves insists on God being right, and ourselves subservient to His desires. Reconciliation with each other is dependent on love, because with love we become outward focused. What would happen if churches that had internal issues allowed the Lord to be the Arbitrator? Meaning, dump the “I thinks,” and seek what He really has to say concerning those issues. Since the only One right is God, it would behoove everyone to get on board with what He has to say. What would happen if we quit trying to be right about our “doctrinal truths,” and find out what the Father really intended by what He said in His Word. It is interesting to note that there is only One Doctrine of Christ, yet there are doctrines of men and devils. Love says Truth prevails in the purest form. Instead of trying to agree with each other, let us agree with Him. When we agree with the Lord, we will be in agreement with each other. That, by the way, ends compromise! Think about this, if we air our differences in public in the name of no compromise, we are compromising the Gospel.
Influencing communities in which we live for the Kingdom of God means that we need strong families. There are some nuclear and extended families, as well as some church families out there who are really struggling to stay together. In some cases, family members have been deeply wounded and some outright rejected. There are many dynamics involved in each case. Nonetheless, pride and selfishness has been a big contributor. We can use hurts as an excuse to despise others and not forgive them. It is a good thing that Jesus did not take that position, because if anyone had the right to hold unforgiveness, it was Him. Because He loved us so much, He laid His life down for us. If you want revenge, forgive one another. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more to than to take as many with him into the lake of fire as he can. If he can con us into unforgiveness, he may also trick us into bitterness. With that, comes an evil heart of unbelief. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (KJV). Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends (KJV). Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (KJV). While there are boundaries that we may need to set with those who are abusive, we should also keep in mind that kindness does lead to repentance.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (KJV). Should a brother or sister fall or even sin against us, we have a decision to make. We can either condemn and reject them for their crimes, or forgive them and seek their restoration. We can judge them or help them. If we condemn them and reject them, we are carnal, and not spiritual. While we cannot reward bad behavior, we do need to see beyond it and not hold it against those who behave badly. Behavior is a symptom of something underneath the surface. For example, a sinner sins because that is his nature. He cannot help it. A wounded believer has need of healing; their anger is a result of the pain and fear attached to the hurt. Kill the root and the behavior changes. Love is the key to saving the sinner and healing the wounded. Reconciliation requires love.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (KJV).