RESTORING HONOUR IN YOUR WORLD
A DANGEROUS JOURNEY
There is an authority crisis in South Africa today. It’s been a long time in the making, and has exponentially grown to the place where—like so many other nations—there is rioting in the streets. Anarchy is becoming a more and more common way of living. Independence and lawlessness—stepping stones to violence—have become normal, even in the church world, and is increasingly being acted out.
Andrew Strom recently wrote: “We have spoken before about the dangers of mixing Christianity with ‘nationalism’ – of wrapping the Bible in the flag – and calling it ‘orthodox’ Christianity.
This stuff is not just dangerous – it is deadly. There have been countless wars and countless millions killed down the centuries by this very thing. Mixing ‘patriotism’ with Christianity and using that to motivate people – to get them angered up and mad enough to go ‘fight’ some politicians war or riot in the streets, or whatever.
Hitler used just this kind of patriotism to get himself elected. And I see this very same anger rising amongst some Christian radicals in South Africa, and many other countries are being ‘driven’ toward something – and it is very ugly.
OUR TRUE PLACE OF ALLEGENCE
“Every Christian should know that our present and future home is in heaven and its kingdom – not in any particular “nation.” Our allegiance is towards GOD’S kingdom, not any kingdom on this earth.” (1)
Violent crimes and murder have increased.
Diminishing respect for authority is at the root of this downward spiral. The church is to reveal a higher way, another culture, to the world.
Jesus, the One to whom all authority has been given, spoke these strong words:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!’” (2)
THE BASIS OF HONOUR
Behavioural patterns are normally formed early in life. A significant key is found in the fifth commandment, the first commandment with a promise:
“Honour (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother—that is the first commandment with a promise—that all may be well with you and that you may live a long life on the earth.” (3)
There are many synonyms for honour. Respect is the one that speaks loudest to me. I also am thankful for the insightful expressions for honour offered in the Amplified Bible: esteem and value as precious.
Our Father has placed a value on all people. Being all inclusive, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (4) God is long-suffering (patient) toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (5)
To that end, we are exhorted to:
* Warn those who are unruly,
* Comfort the fainthearted,
* Uphold the weak,
* Be patient with all. (6)
Even our most intense confrontations (7) are to be redemptive in motivation, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (8)
“Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin;” do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (9)
We are in measure the products of our environment—at least until we begin to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (10) Simply stated, we have good habits and we have bad habits. Jesus comes to live in us and helps us retain good habits and replace bad habits—a lifelong process.
*Christ in us produces a transformation of habits*
He who is forgiven much loves much. (11) The elder brother of the prodigal had no idea of his significant inheritance until his father threw a party for his sibling. (12) Those who have lived uprightly must be careful to not rely upon their own righteousness, but to fully embrace the new creation (13) in Christ, surrendering all to Him in favour of newness of life in the power of the resurrection.
THE PROCESS OF DECLINE
The Cultural Revolution began during World War II, when Dads went to war and Moms went to work.
Today, we are faced with the full-grown fruit:
The moral deterioration of this nation
The lack of respect for our leaders
The loss of God’s favour
HONOUR RE INTRODUCED
Honouring or respecting authority is not primarily about the person(s) in authority. It’s about us honouring God by honouring His authority—civil and spiritual—in faith and obedience. Civility is furthered in any sphere of life where people honour one another. Such knowledge begins with the fear of God. (14) But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I was trained and still believe in honouring positional authority, not necessarily because I believe in the individuals, but because I believe in the One who administrates all authority! (15) I am not so naïve as to believe that my honouring another—deserving or not—improves his or her status. We need the revelation that doing so in faith is for our good and the good of others, regardless of the character or conduct of those whom we so honour.
Dishonouring governmental, community, or church leaders can be “vanilla” in texture and flavour, and still rob us of the promise that attends our faithfully honouring others.
Honour is not always spoken. We often communicate through our attitudes. Dishonouring others in either attitude or action is akin to nailing one of our feet to the floor, and wondering why our lives are going in circles.
God cares for us! He keeps His promises. The command to honour is for our benefit! That’s where so many miss it. Are you living in the favour of God?
If we read Romans 13, beginning with verse 1, we may miss the supernatural implications of God’s higher thoughts and ways concerning authority. Let’s back up a chapter for context.
Romans 12…begins with an appeal for us to not be conformed to this world so that we might be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What makes sense to the world should be at least suspect to us.
Kingdom administration is demonstrated as we:
* Bless those who persecute us (verse 14)
* Repay no one evil for evil (verse 17)
* Do not avenge ourselves (verse 19)
* Give place to wrath (verse 19)
* Feed our enemy, and give him drink (verse 20)
* Overcome evil with good (verse 21)
Now, with this kind of renewed mind, perhaps we can embrace the Holy Spirit inspired instructions pertaining to our attitudes and actions regarding authority written in Chapter 13.
The kingdom of God is not of this world! Consider these intellectually unreasonable propositions:
* “Do not resist an evil person.”
* “Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
* “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.”
* “Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
* “Love your enemies.”
* “Bless those who curse you.”
* “Do good to those who hate you.”
* “Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
All of the above are unreasonable to un-renewed minds, yet are insights into the higher way of God’s kingdom. This higher way cannot be fulfilled by the man of flesh. It is by faith in the Word of God and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit that we can walk in this way.
JESUS OUR EXAMPLE AND PATTERN
Jesus failed to honour His parents on at least one occasion (I understand many may have different interpretations of this), when He stayed behind at the temple in Jerusalem. It is possible that Joseph and Mary got to the “seat” of the problem with the “board of education,” providing Jesus the correction and training He needed.(Though some could interpret this differently) Scripture testifies of Him:
Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (16)
* He went down with them to Nazareth
* He was subject to them
* He increased in wisdom and stature
* He increased in favour with God and man
This, is not a call to blind obedience or passivity. Jesus stood His ground, angrily condemning those who opposed God. The ways of the kingdom are for the sons of the kingdom. We cannot always speak unto men as spiritual. (17)
My generation was brought up honouring authority—parental authority, educational teacher authority, governmental authority: “Yes, Ma’am, yes, Sir.” “No, Ma’am, no, Sir.” It is still natural for me to use these expressions of honour. I enjoy watching the reaction of teenagers who are packaging my groceries when I refer to them as “Sir” or “Ma’am.” And show gratitude to them for the important task of packing groceries in a bag. (I really mean it when I do it, because God has put a high value on their lives—much higher than they realize!)
Render therefore to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour. (18)
JOSEPH AN EXAMPLE
Joseph had learned how to submit to authority as a child in his home, beginning by honouring his mother and father. The promise of God—that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth—remained intact throughout the life of Joseph. The favour of God rested upon him while in the household of Potiphar, while in the prison, and while in the palace of Pharaoh.
We need to “connect the dots,” and realize that respecting those in authority affects our lives in a variety of positive ways. Life is not always fair. Joseph was not always fairly treated, but he honoured those in authority, and lived in the favour of God.
Paul was not the only one to define Kingdom administration in terms of honour. Peter wrote,
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, * “Be holy, for I am holy.”(19)
* Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.
* Honour all people.
* Love the brotherhood.
* Fear God.
* Honour the king.
* Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.(20)
Conditions do not alter the character and conduct of those who have been rightly discipled through their service to parents, guardians and stewards,(21) who know Father’s voice and walk in His Spirit.
And now, friends, we ask you to honour those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! (22)
HONOUR WITHIN THE BODY (CHURCH)
Material response is an appropriate way to honour those who serve us.
Paul wrote to Timothy,
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.” (23)
Paul responsibly taught those within his allotment about honour, and the tangible demonstration of that honour, while making certain that they understood that he was not exercising his rights, he spelled out the rights of those who preach the gospel:
* Do we not have a right to eat and drink?
* Do we have no right to take along a believing wife?
* Who goes to war at his own expense?
* Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit?
* Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk?
* “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads the grain.”
* He who plows should plow in hope.
* He who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
* If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
* Those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple.
* Those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar.
The Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (24)
The church at Corinth was yet carnal, babes in Christ, and could not be addressed as spiritual. For that reason, Paul added this:
But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more. (25)
Faithful stewards and generous givers are not necessarily spiritually mature in every respect. However, those who are not responsibly honouring the Lord with their possessions and with the first fruits of all their increase cannot expect their barns to be filled with plenty, and their vats overflowing with new wine. (26)
Some are living well below the favour of God today because they have adopted an ungodly attitude and/or believe a humanly logical apologetic that continually questions authority. It is better to exercise a childlike faith in the simplicity of the command with promise, and render honour to all men—especially those who have been given responsibility with authority in our lives, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.(27)
If you are among those who have suffered abuse at the hand of someone in a position of authority, find the help you need to be healed.
If you have been wounded by leadership, God will likely deliver your healing through someone in leadership. Resisting authority is not helping you to be healed. God wants to abundantly provide for your complete victory in wholeness.
Please take a risk in faith. Ask God to direct you to the person(s) who can help you.
Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.(28) (This is not been judgemental, it is saying that there is consequence to our behaviour and so Paul is urging people to walk wisely and so doing walk in the way of the kingdom and its righteousness)
THE PLACE OF HONOUR
Rendering honour to whom honour is due, beginning with our fathers and mothers, is linked by principle to the favour of God. Being enlightened and empowered by the Holy Spirit—Christ in us the hope of glory—brings this principle to new levels of faith.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . . The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (29) Isaiah used a word that translates “government” in this passage, and links it to peace. We will experience more peace as we find ourselves submitting (30) to more of His government that comes to us by His Spirit, through His body—the church, including His appointed leaders.
The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.
They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. (31)
THE CALL TO WALK IN CHRIST’S ABILITY
This is not a call to perform. This is a call to faith in the ability of Christ in us to do what needs to be done—to fulfil the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. (32)
One moment of faith and repentance, with the forgiving of others, can cancel a lifetime of hurt and fear and frustration. It’s not too late for a new beginning!
Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. (33)
1 Mathew 6:33
2 Matthew 7:21-23
3 Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3
4 John 3:16
5 2 Peter 3:9
6 1 Thessalonians 5:14
7 Examples: Jesus’s encounter with the moneychangers in the Temple, His
confrontations with Pharisees, etc.
8 John 3:17
9 Ephesians 4:25-27
10 Romans 12:2 – We begin to live and function in the environment of heaven.
11 Luke 7:47
12 Luke 15:11-32
13 2 Corinthians 5:17
14 Proverbs 1:7
15 Romans 13:1-7
16 Hebrews 5:8-9
17 1 Corinthians 3:1
18 Read Romans 13:1-10
19 1 Peter 1:13-16
20 1 Peter 2:13-18
21 Galatians 4:1-2
22 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a TM
23 1 Timothy 5:17-18 – Suggested reading: 1 Corinthians 9:1-14
24 1 Corinthians 9:4-14
25 1 Corinthians 9:15-19
26 Proverbs 3:9-10
27 1 Peter 2:18
28 Romans 13:2
29 Isaiah 9:7
30 Submission is an inward attitude of the heart. Obedience is an outward action.
There will be times when we cannot in good conscience obey. But, we can
maintain a submissive attitude. See Acts 4:5-20.
31 2 Peter 2:9-11
32 Romans 8:2
33 James 5:13-16 TM ;
Mathew 5 and 6 …Maybe it’s time to revisit the constitution of the kingdom