“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” 1 Thess 5:12-13
The Gospel has triumphed for centuries despite persecutions, trials and tribulations. But in these end times, it seems we are now at a stage where if we do not properly manage the “spoils of war” which we gained through the sacrifice and labours of the blood of past missionaries and evangelists, we may forfeits them at the gate of honoring men.
Luther at the Diet of Worms
We all know that honoring and respecting men of God is one of the admonitions in the Scripture. But never must we prioritize that at the expense of the truth. Paul respected Peter for being an Elder and an Apostle, one of the first Twelve. Paul even spent fifteen days in his house after leaving the desert of Arabia. But he still had to call him to order when he realized some erroneous steps that Peter took.
“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.” – Gal. 2:11-13
There is a danger in our practice in the Christian Church of today, which is surreptituosly breeding a generation that do not see the Bible as the final authority, but rather the word of some men of God as final authority. Many in today’s Christianity do not see the Word of Christ as the supreme authority but rather the counsels and the viewpoints of some men of note. The Bible would be useless if all you need in God is in a single man or woman. We bless God for the Patriarchs of faith and we appreciate their sacrifices, but they can never replace the Bible for us. They are only as relevant as they point and guide us back to the Divine Source; they are never the Source themselves. The Gospel did not come this far by honoring men, rather it’s been by honoring the Truth.
For several centuries now, God has continued to raise men who are committed to the truth far above the word of men. They were not heretics, but they have been committed to God and God alone. They looked unto Christ who is the Truth and able to sustain His Church for generations, and never by committing themselves to personal gain to be had through honouring men and shutting their mouth to the truth or silencing their conscience.
We have turned the pulpit to a place of accolades and honour for men.
But today, instead for our generation to press on in knowing more of the Bible, preach Christ and Him crucified, many times we have turned the pulpit to a place of accolades and honour for men. We preach so much about honoring men that carnal men have hijacked this and took it to the next level. Honouring others is a Christian virtue. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another”. But when the desire to accord others honour collides with the Bible, we must choose to obey the Word. And we are doing this, not just for ourselves, but for God and for the present and future generations.
Peter was young and of lowly background compared to the Pharisees of his days, but he was determined to be committed to the Truth than to keep quiet and stay under the guise of honoring men while silencing the truth.
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29
Honouring men is an admonition in the scripture but that must be within Biblically acceptable bounds. The honour must be in a form that must never take the truth from us nor ascribe the role of God to man. We must never worship any man nor take any man’s word as the final authority. No loyalty to men that deprive followers from speaking or following the truth.
We must never worship any man nor take any man’s word as the final authority.
Let us review some of the grey areas that can lead to this trap:
BEWARE WHEN YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE BEING HONOURED:
No child of God must be the only one being honored in any gathering. Every child of God being honoured must honour others too. Christianity is not autocracy; we are all one-fold under God and therefore irrespective of your gift or anointing, when men honour you, you must honour them accordingly. If you are the only one being honoured and you see other men as subject, you have taken that honour to yourself. See the admonition in Romans:
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” – Romans 1210
That means no man is a boss in the Church Militant. We are all one nation under God. We are not to lord ourselves over others, but rather we fellowship in love and brotherliness. We should not make ourselves unreachable or placing ourselves in situations that the less privileged, widows and so on cannot reach us. “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.” Rom 12:16. We are to be available to the high and mighty. We must never require men to make payment before having an opportunity to see us. If we do not pay to see God, why should men pay to see you? All these are honors that are alien to the Church of Christ.
We are to be available to the high and mighty. We must never require men to make payment before having an opportunity to see us. If we do not pay to see God, why should men pay to see you?
God gave dominion to man in Genesis over everything except over other fellow man. Man was not given the authority to dominate another man. As a leader you must honour your followers just the same way they honour you. That is what reflects the mind of Christ. Jesus taught us this when he washed the disciples’ feet. How many can do that today? Yet Christ admonished us to do it.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I Am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. – John 13 :12-15
In the second part of this article, we conclude with some of the other grey areas to avoid while we try to honor men.