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

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