Monday, May 21, 2012

What Honor Is Not

I wrote an earlier post on the topics of honor, integrity, and humility here. Each in and of itself are weighty ideas, so I appreciate those of you that waded through that post with me.

In the midst of writing it, it struck me that sometimes, in order to recognize what something really is, we have to distinguish it from what it is not.

So, this post is all about what honor is not.

Because in the earlier post, we establish that honor has to be grounded in integrity, meaning that it needs to come from an honest, true place. Let me clarify that this has everything to do with the person giving or offering honor, not the recipient.

So what happens when honor isn't coming from a place of truth?

Two things came to mind (I'm sure there are more, and would love some more examples!).

1. When honor is not grounded in truth, it becomes flattery. Ego Boosting.
(Proverbs 11:3, "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.")

I don't know why, but I like the word duplicity. Maybe it's just the sound of it. Regardless, I wanted to know more of what it meant. says duplicity is 'contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action.'

Ever heard someone say they were talking out of both sides of their mouth? (It's a peculiar phrase, isn't it? Anyways...) Well, this is what it is referring to. Speaking one thing, but really you think and believe something different. Or you say one thing to someone, but turn around and contradict your statement to another source.

Hopefully this isn't something you can immediately identify with. It's usually not what we're striving to do. But I would like to challenge us, challenge myself, to really examine our hearts and see if there are times when we ascribe credit -acclaim, praise, give compliments to someone else - when we don't really mean it.

Maybe there is something about that person that we have a hard time with. A personality conflict. A difference of opinion. And we just have a hard time coming from a place of genuineness when it comes to offering encouragement. It's going to happen. We will not get along with every person we encounter. And if you were under the assumption that was expected of you, I'm officially taking you off the hook. You can breathe now. There will just be some hard people to get along with.

However, we're still called to honor others above ourselves. Romans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Why? Because God places immense value on you and me, and them. And what He places value on, if we're going to seek after His heart and strive to be like Him, we have to as well. And honor is our way of showing that we agree with God.

So, what do we do? We take this knowledge, this command, and we try to do it on our own, in our own power. And the result? Our words become false, not life-giving or uplifting, from a place of ingenuity.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

And if we do this long enough, pretty soon we don't know the difference between sincere compliments and hypocrisy. We have to make sure that we don't believe that the lip service we're offering them, or God, is really honorable.

This may sound harsh, but I do think it's important to not take lightly the power of our words. Jesus is the Word of God that brings life. And I think that He, in turn, through the Holy Spirit and Scripture, gives us the ability to bring hope and life-giving encouragement with our words. But if our hearts are not in a good place, our words can't provide that for others.

Luke 6:45b, "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

In fact, when you can identify a time when offering honest encouragement is difficult, it's an opportunity to ask God what is it about that situation that is hindering you. This is an opportunity for growth, for God to reveal what is really going on in your heart, and begin to change it so that there are no division between you and others.

So, back to the challenge - if we are going to truly honor, from a place of truth, we have to recognize when we are not being sincere.

On to the second example.

2. When honor is not grounded in truth, it fosters envy and jealousy.
When we are envious of someone else, we are agreeing to the idea that they have something that is better than who we are or what we possess, therefore slighting who God has created us to be.

We are the most susceptible to envy and jealousy when we don't have a firm foundation of who we are in Christ.  Because we don't have a clear idea of the person God has created us to be, we will look to the outside to figure out for ourselves or from someone else what is appealing, attractive, and what will give us what we think we need.

But we can't do that if our feet are slipping, if we're not standing firmly in the knowledge of who we are in Christ. The knowledge that we are loved, affirmed, and accepted because of what Jesus did for us on the cross allows us to begin to believe verses like Jeremiah 29:11, that He does in fact have a plan and a purpose for us, and that it's for our good!

The more we receive these truths...that we are loved, accepted, affirmed, adored, delighted in....the more we don't feel the urge to strive anymore to accomplish or achieve anything in order to be accepted. We don't have to give anything away to be loved. We don't have to look to others to affirm us because we are already affirmed by the Father. We can give up the pursuits of trying to accomplish something to make us more acceptable, because Jesus did what we couldn't at Calvary.

And with this knowledge of who we are in Christ, we aren't as susceptible to envy and jealousy, because we know God is doing something special in us. We can believe that He has our best at heart and trust that we have what we need. And so we can encourage others in the ways that God has gifted them and in the direction that God has called them.

God always meant for our relationships to be honoring, to build each other up and to spur each other on in our faith and to help each other identify our strengths and the gifts God has given us so they can fulfill the calling He has placed on our lives. 

So, bringing it all together, it's important that we are able to offer encouragement & honor from a place of truth, because we value what God does. This reflects of the heart of God and brings Him glory.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:9-11

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


This post is for those of us that have been known to struggle with perfectionism. (For those that can't relate, feel free to continue reading - it may help you relate to someone in your life & learn how to love people like me).

The Lord brought something to mind this morning that I haven't thought about in a while. It was an epiphany of sorts that He gave my heart a few years back, and one that He's been helping me 'walk out' ever since.

It was this:

That there is a fine line between striving for excellence and perfectionism.

Striving for excellence seeks God's glory and fame, and perfectionism seeks my  personal pursuit for ______________ (acclaim, recognition, sense of worth, control, etc.)

When it's laid out there like that, it seems pretty straight forward, as though there is a clear distinction.

But "the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9

Often times, we don't know the motive behind what we do, pursue, seek for, desire after.

We can feel as though we're striving for a noble cause, like justice, situations where things are fair and right. (who would argue against a pursuit for that?)


a closer look at the heart might reveal that at the root of it, it is really a pursuit of my rights, a sense of fairness for how I've been wronged, etc.

(Of course, I'm not talking about social injustices such as human trafficking or other awful atrocities like this. I'm talking about, in comparison, the minor things we face, such as being passed over for the promotion at work, or someone else is recognized for an effort we made, etc.)

In this example, we're ignoring the fact that God has called us to a life of surrender, of laying down our rights and desires for His Will. And the very situation that we're in an uproar about in our life personally may be the very thing God has orchestrated to form in us a better sense of submission to Him, trust in His ways, and humility.

The point I'm getting at is that it can be hard sometimes to really recognize the difference between these two pursuits. And as sheep, we easily wander. We don't know the way we need to go, really on any given day, and need to constantly be seeking the Great Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), to walk with Him daily so that He can help us navigate the curvy pathways of our hearts. Only Jesus can help us avoid the pitfalls of our selfish nature, which we will continue to struggle with until He comes back and we go Home.

One example of how this can easily play out in my life is this:

I struggle with trust. It has never come naturally or easily. Thankfully God has graciously been changing this about me, but it is still not a strength of mine. So, in seeking excellence for God, perhaps in the form of planning a ministry event, it can easily become more about me wanting to control how things play out (due to fear of how things will go if all the bases aren't covered, all the 'T's aren't crossed) than trusting if I do my best to be obedient, to plan and prepare, that the results are up to God. In a subtle way, when I choose to try to control instead of trust, I'm saying that God somehow needs me to accomplish certain things in order for Him to do His thing. (HA!) That is one of the most ridiculous lies I've ever heard, but until it's brought out into the light, we can go on living and acting this way, not knowing that it's somewhere deep in our hearts. We go about living lives that contradict what we say we believe.

So, let's expose this lie for what it is! Let's denounce the idea that we somehow have to enthrone our efforts, our way of doing things, our preferences (in other words, ourselves!), and let's allow the only One worthy of our worship to take His rightful place in our hearts!

I read this yesterday, and feel it's one way we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on ourselves and what we feel we need to do.

Romans 12:3 (MSG), "Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him."

So how do we  1) recognize this in ourselves, and 2)combat this lie?

A good litmus test to know which of these two your heart is pursuing is to look at our response when things don't go as expected.

Are we grieved because we feel as though it was a distraction from God,
are we frustrated because we feel it's something that will look bad on us?

Here's a few distinctions to help you gauge where your heart may be regarding this issue.

  • Perfectionism has an idea of what the end product will look like, and gets upset when that doesn't materialize. (Focus is on the results)

  • Seeking excellence seeks to do the best with what God has given you, and leaves the results up to God. (Focus is on God, leaving the end product to Him)
  • Perfectionism can lead to anxiety, if things don't go as planned, as though something has gone terribly wrong. It can lead to doubting God's sovereignty and control.
  • Seeking excellence recognizes that His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8) and knows that what can sometimes look like a disaster to me can be the very thing that God uses to reveal His beautiful, redemptive work. (I'm sure no one felt that Christ's crucifixion, at the time, was the right thing that needed to happen.)
  • Perfectionism can be about building my own self-image, trying to control how others perceive me, what I'm capable of, and is pretty much all about me. It can take all my time and energy and distract me from other important things around me.
  • Seeking excellence is about representing God has His child, as part of His family. It's about 'living a life worthy of the calling I've received' (Philippians 1:27), showing reverence for Who God is and that He deserves my best efforts. Ultimately, it's all about what God.
I wish I had a way to wrap this up with a pretty little bow, but I guess I'll just leave you where I'm at myself - just meditating on this and hoping that the truth of it continues to seek down into my heart. 

We were made to worship God and to be in relationship with Him. We were made for His glory, so let's make this life about how we can make Him known.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9