Travelling across this nation allows me the opportunity to see and experience systemic, corporate blessings that are occurring in our churches, but it also affords the opportunity to see corporate, systemic needs. A growing concern that has surfaced is the need for a culture of honor to rise within our churches. Until recently, I only recognized the need for honor, but rarely taught on the subject. I'm hoping to change that fact beginning with this blog and other future lessons. In the New Testament, the word “honor” (time) means to esteem or hold in great respect, or to place value on a person. One expositor said honor means to ascribe a high price on someone to the point that we give them preference over our own life.
Honor truly begins by how God treated you and me. The Bible says that God not only crowned us with glory, but he crowned us with honor by putting all things under our subjection (Heb. 2:6-8). God actually gives more honor to people within the body of Christ who seem to lack it so that the Church is not divided (1 Cor. 12:24). Our lives are valuable to God. So valuable, in fact, that we're to honor God with our bodies (1 Thess. 4:4). Honor extends to how we treat other people, too. The Bible says that we are to "give preference to one another in honor" (Rom. 12:10). Think about that for a moment, do you prefer others as more important than yourself (see Phil. 2:3)? If a husband fails to show honor to his wife, it will hinder his prayer life (1 Pet. 3:7). You and I are to bestow more honor on those who we would initially deem as "less honorable" so that these persons may actually become more presentable in the Church (1 Cor. 12:23).
Jesus came into his hometown of Nazareth and preached his inaugural message. After walking into the synagogue and taking a scroll, He read the passage concerning the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit resting on Him (Luke 4:18). He announced that Isaiah's prophetic decree was being fulfilled at that very moment through His life. His words were spoken with an anointing and filled with matchless grace. It was obvious that Jesus was being empowered by the Holy Spirit, but sometime during his message a spirit of familiarity fell on the listeners. Upon closer inspection of Jesus, the audience overlooked the unction and Spirit upon Jesus and stated, "Is this not Joseph's son" (Luke 4:22)?
This was a total disregard for the power and potential that Jesus carried that day. Because of a lack of honor, which Jesus clearly indicated was the problem (see Luke 4:24), the possibilities of corporate spiritual transformation never occurred that day. Instead, Jesus told two stories about two prophets who bypassed God's chosen people with extraordinary power simply because of a lack of honor (see Luke 4:25-27). The people were angered by Jesus’ message, but it only underscored their lack of honor for Jesus (and for the two prophets).
A similar scene occurred yet again when Jesus came to his hometown demonstrating enormous power and wisdom (see Mark 6:1-5). What looked to be an incredible crusade of healing and miracles came to a screeching halt when Jesus' listeners said, "Wait a minute, we know this guy. He's just the carpenter who grew up down the street with his brothers and sisters." The Bible says that the crowd took offense at Him. Jesus stated, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household" (Mark 6:4). Can you imagine that kind of dishonor? Jesus could do no miracle among the people that day. I don't believe that dishonor diminished Jesus' ability to do miracles; rather, it stifled the spiritual receptivity within the environment and specifically, their heart's ability to receive from Him. The culture that surrounded Jesus was deprived of receiving a blessing due to a lack of honor.
When we fail to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit upon a person because we're distracted by their education, pedigree, or accolades—or the lack of these things—we dishonor them and reduce our possibilities of receiving what they carry. If we allow familiarity for a person to overshadow the anointing resting on them, then we dishonor that person and decrease our chances of being blessed by them. Moreover, sometimes God will place the spiritual blessing that we most need upon a person that we least expect or upon someone that we may quickly discount in our mind. I'm aware of some countries where children carry a greater anointing than the adults and are seeing some of the greatest breakthroughs in miracles. The apostle Peter said that children would prophesy when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2:17), so why wouldn't they be able to move in other spiritual manifestations?
Here are four concerns that I have regarding a lack of honor. First, dishonor devalues people for whom God has placed high value upon. You will never look into the eyes of someone who doesn’t matter to God, and when you dishonor someone, you degrade what God paid a high price for. Second, dishonor hinders the Church from bringing up future generations that will exceed them. A lack of honor only sees people as they are and not what they can be through the eyes of grace. Therefore, we treat these same people with little respect believing that they’ll never amount to anything great. Third, dishonor diminishes the Church of the potential of operating in or experiencing the miraculous. If we only see people as they are, then we will fail to recognize the Holy Spirit that might be resting upon them. Through dishonor, we place ourselves outside of the influence that they could have on us, our church, or ministry event. Fourth, dishonor decreases the chances of God sending prophets (apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) into our churches. Anointed people will usually be sent by God into places that will honor and steward the gifts and graces that they’ve been given.
Do you honor those in your church? Do you honor all people regardless of what you initially see on the outside? Do you honor those who may or may not have a position, title, degree, or pedigree? Begin to ask God to help you give honor to all people.
Jesus, teach us through your Holy Spirit how to become a people who honor others, amen.