Love and Honour
Honour For God
“How can you believe, who receive honour from one another, and do not seek the honour that comes from the only God?”
Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Something I find intriguing about an inner-city office environment is the way some people constantly play a political game of self-promotion. If they are asked how their day is going, the answer given is always something designed to prove that they are the best at what
they do. When they speak to the boss it is generally to brag about what they have achieved.
If we have an eternal perspective we won’t be concerned about self-promotion, we will be concerned about pleasing God. Jesus said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted”. When we seek praise from anywhere other than God, we no longer live to please God but to please ourselves. Jesus taught that judgement has been given to Him so that all should honour Him (John 5:22–23). In other words, it is not up to us to decide to whom honour or love should be given. We have no right to judge by appearances or wealth or status who should be given honour and who should not. That decision must be left to God. The first to receive our honour, our praise, our esteem, our reverence, our love, is God.
Read John 12:25–26. What happens when we leave self-promotion behind and choose to honour God instead?
Imitating Jesus means loving what He loves, acting as He acts, bearing what He bears. If we do this, God will honour us. To honour means to value, to treat as precious and weighty, to treat with deference, to hold in high esteem, to submit and to obey.
Do you tend to see the faults in others rather than the good they do? Do you spend a great deal of time complaining about the injustices of how you have been treated? Do you have to overstate your accomplishments in order to get anywhere? Do you promote yourself so that others in the church will see all the good works you do? Do you try to find favour with people by making sure they know how wealthy you are or the important positions you hold? Do you play the martyr so people will praise your sacrifices? Do you use spiritual manifestations such as words of knowledge, tongues or raising hands so people will know what a great Christian you are?
Time to shift the focus off yourself and back onto God. Below are some steps you can take.
Steps to honouring God
Repent of your pride or insecurity.
• Write on a card: God’s promise: I will be exalted when I humble myself
• Listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and hold your tongue.
• When you find yourself slipping back into old ways, with humility bring the conversation back to give glory and honour to God.
• Realign your thoughts to bring them off yourself and back to God.
Love and Honour
Honour For Authority
“Servants be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh … for to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.”
—1 Peter 2:18–21
1 Peter 4:1–2, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
In the sermon this week, we learned that we should be subject to all authorities because there is no authority except from God. Being subject to an authority means obeying and submitting to that authority. Obedience is something we do—our actions, and submission deals with our heart—our attitude. But what if the authority is harsh? There is only one exception to the Biblical exhortation to obey and that is if we are asked to do something that goes against the Word of God. Our attitude must still be honouring—no exceptions.
Joseph obeyed and submitted to the authorities in his life. Even when he was asked to lie with Potiphar’s wife, he was still honouring in attitude but refused to obey the command she gave that would have been ‘a sin against God’. He didn’t hurl abuse at her or complain against her. He committed himself to God and trusted that God’s plan was perfect.
Imagine if he had responded as you would expect someone to respond today: “Who do you think you are? I’m not just some piece of meat for you to get your claws into! I’m going to the Human Rights Commission. I’m going to tell your husband and he’d be justified in divorcing you. You’ve got a Jezebel spirit and you are not getting away with this!” Would he have spoken the truth and received justice? Possibly, but he would have missed out on the much greater blessing that God had in store for him and the nation of Israel.
Consider the context in which 1 Peter 2:18–21 was written. Who mistreated Jesus?
We are called to honour authority even when it is harsh so that we will not live in the flesh but for the will of God.
Examples of people the Bible says have authority over us are: employers, government, governing bodies, civil authorities, teachers, coaches, parents (for children), Pastors and Elders. Write a list of all the people in your life who are in a position of authority over you. Have you been treating these people with honour? Write them down, repent, submit and surrender to God’s way.
Consider these possible areas of dishonour:
• Speaking truth but without agape love.
• Insisting on your rights.
• Complaining about what a bad job the authority does.
• Complaining about how you have been treated.
• Blatantly ignoring the rules and justifying your behaviour.
Love and Honour
Honour In The Family
“Honour your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
1 Chronicles 5:1, “The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son.”
What happens when a child of the promise does not honour their father and mother? Let’s consider Joseph’s brother Reuben, the firstborn of Israel. He dishonoured his father by deception, by lying and by not standing up to his younger brothers in the way they treated the inhabitants of the city of Shechem. He also dishonoured his father by sleeping with Rachel’s handmaiden after she died. He was jealous of Joseph and hated him. Although he desired to save Joseph out of the pit, he could have done a lot more to save him. When he saw Joseph was gone, he was more concerned about what would happen to him rather than Joseph. He dishonoured his father by continuing to lie about Joseph for 20 years. When he thought that their sin had finally caught up with them before the governor of Egypt, he tried to shift blame off himself onto his brothers. He was prepared to sacrifice
his sons (not himself) if Benjamin did not return to Jacob. On his deathbed, Jacob declared Reuben to be ‘unstable as water’. Unlike Judah, Reuben had not learnt humility. Although we don’t know when Reuben died, we do know that all was not well with him and he lost his birthright.
Reuben rightly saw that his father’s actions were unfair—he loved Rachel more than Reuben’s mother; he favoured Joseph over his other sons; he had permitted his daughter to be dishonoured in favour of political gain. Does the dishonourable behaviour of others give us licence to dishonour them?
Even if we are dealing with something that is actually wrong in our parents’ actions, we are not their conscience or their arm of correction.
If your parents are alive write them a letter now and tell them how much you appreciate them for the gift of life they gave you. Commit to praying for your parents: When you get a put down, respond with a blessing. When you are impatient with the care that is needed, pray for strength and go the extra mile. When your parents do something you don’t approve of, be firm in your beliefs but be respectful in your speech and actions. When your parents find it difficult to let you cleave to your spouse, speak with respect and love but be firm with your resolve. When your parents try to tell you how to live your life, pray, respect their wisdom and respond with blessing.
If your parents have passed on take a minute to write a note to God thanking Him for the parents He gave you.
Love and Honour
Honour In The Church
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
1 Samuel 2:30, “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
Today, more than in any other time in history we see the degradation of honouring of authority in society: children divorcing their parents; members of the English monarchy attacked by student protestors in their car; an increase in the severity and number of attacks on police officers; graffiti covered walls in public places; vandalising of state property; the list goes on. We are bombarded with rights-based thinking and we get confused into believing that it belongs in Church as well.
When we become followers of Jesus we join His Kingdom. We are told to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). A Kingdom is not a democracy where we have rights to vote or express our opinion or pass political comments or complain when things don’t go the way we want.
There is a God-ordained hierarchy in the Church and God desires that we honour it. When we honour our Church leaders, we honour God and in turn He honours us. Conversely, if we despise those who God has placed in authority over us in the Church, God will lightly esteem us.
Note the two parts of honour in Hebrews 13:17. Refer to 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13, 1 Peter 5:5, Romans 13:1 and Hebrews 13:7. What specific groups of people in the Church come within the categories mentioned?
Agape love and honour must be extended to our Pastors and Elders.
What honour are you giving to the Pastors in your Church? 1 Timothy 5:17–18 tells us to give double honour to Elders who rule, especially to those who labour in the Word and doctrine. Pray and ask God to reveal any areas where you are resistant. Write down what God reveals to you or what your thoughts are.
Take positive steps to genuinely honour the leadership in your
Lord, as I go through the list below, please convict me of any dishonour I have given my Pastors:
• Obedience—my actions
• Submission—my attitude
• Recognition—appreciation and encouragement for a job well done
• Esteem highly—respect and admiration.
I repent of my behaviour and ask that you restore new attitudes and actions in me. Help me to show honour as You want me to.
Ideas to give honour
• Seek the forgiveness of any Pastors you may have offended.
• If your Pastors ask for volunteers, volunteer.
• Show up for services on time.
• Give when you are asked to give.
• Lay your life down for service in your Church.
• If you have agreed to do something, do it.
• Look for excellent and praiseworthy things that your Pastors do and send them a note of congratulations.
• Be exceedingly careful not to entertain an accusation against a Pastor unless there are two or three witnesses who have separate evidence (1 Timothy 5:19).
• Close your ears to rumour and innuendo about your Pastors and rebuke the person in love who does so.
• Speak to and about your Pastors with the utmost respect.
• Listen attentively to the message.
• In so far as you are given any say in it, make sure your Pastors are paid well (1Timothy 5:17).
• Support your Pastors in the vision they have shared with the Church.
Love and Honour
Honour For All
“Do all things without complaining and disputing.”
1 Peter 2:17, “Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.”
Joseph’s story is incredible. We can see the way God wove everything together for good. If only our own lives could so easily be seen written in a few pages so that we know things will turn out okay in the end. The good news is that God has written a story for us (Psalm 139:16)!
The ending has already been written and it is a good one! God wants us to stay within the words that He has written on the page and not deviate onto another book that does not have such a good ending. The way to do that is to stick to His way of doing things. Joseph gave honour to all. There is not one mention of complaint or dispute coming out of his mouth. That does not mean he accepted everything he was asked to do. When he was asked to go against the Word of God he respectfully declined. We need to take a page out of Joseph’s book and honour all people we come in contact with.
Read Genesis 39:7–9. What words of honour did Joseph use while refusing to go against the Word of God?
When Jesus said “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37—Parable of the Good Samaritan) He meant it!
A challenge for today and for every day:
Take an interest in every single person that God places in your path, even if you simply give them a smile. Be kind to the checkout operator or the waitress, be generous in your praise of the meal at the café, offer the plumber a cup of tea, find out about the concerns of others before you tell them your own. Look for any opportunity to be generous and kind. Go out of your way to help others and give them the love that Jesus wants you to give in the way that He wants you to give it.
Love and Honour
“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”
Hebrews 10:22–25, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
We have come to the end of our journey Looking Up at God to have His love revealed, Leaning In to gain a snippet of truth and Living Out what we have discovered. If you are struggling with the Living Out part of our devotional, you are doing well! When we finally recognize what we need to do, try to do it, yet fail, we are beginning to recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are sharing in the dilemma that Paul spoke about in Romans 7:13–25. It is the strangest thing, it is not until we acknowledge that we have failed, cry out to God in repentance and seek His help, that things begin to get easier and easier. The
challenges become less and agape love becomes a habit.
So here we are, surrounded by others just like us! Let’s make a pact to encourage one another to stir up love and good works! Let’s draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith!
Think about and discuss what you have gained from the series. What changes have you made to the way you live out your faith?
Agape love is a new way of living. We know that as we head toward the last days that our struggles in the world will become greater. We need to hold onto the hope that we have by the death of Jesus without wavering, because He is faithful!
Think of ways that you can encourage your cell group members or your Church as a whole to show love to one another. Approach your cell group leader with your ideas or if you are not in a cell group, contact your Church’s cell group overseers.