The Lesson of the Honor

HonorSeven years ago, I attended the conference discussed in The Lesson of the Touch by myself. But I was never alone. In addition to God’s constant companionship, I was surrounded by compassionate people, who ministered to me and to one another in the Name of Jesus.

Two sisters, in particular, showed me numerous considerations. At the conference’s close, they gifted me with a book in which they had written the name of an individual whose prayer ministry, located in my home state, might prove beneficial to me. I thanked them and said that I would check it out.

But I never did visit the ministry, for in my internet search to find its location, I discovered information about another prayer ministry that caught my attention. The ministry, with a local affiliate only an hour from my home, was within reach, and the decision that I made to pay them a visit proved to be life changing. When I walked through the doors that opened into the ministry’s waiting area, I walked into the lives of a group of Christians dedicated to serving others in love through prayer. I was met with open hearts and arms that welcomed me into God’s unconditional love.

One evening each week, the ministry operates in a church that offers its facility for the ministry’s operation. Within that God-provided space, born-again Christians from various local churches pray for the needs of whomever God delivers into their hands. And each week, God leads specific individuals through the church’s doors, uniting need with supply.

During my first visit to the ministry, a two person prayer team listened attentively to my prayer request, before spending considerable time praying for my needs. While they prayed, an intercessor in another room also prayed, asking God for specific Scripture verses for me. Later that evening, as I prepared to leave, I was given a slip of paper, which remains in my Bible. Handwritten by the intercessor on that paper are these verses:

”The LORD has appeared of old to me saying ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.”  (Jeremiah 31:3, 4a—NKJV)

God’s rebuilding process, known as restoration, is always in progress, whether we recognize it or not. The prayer ministry to which I had been led would be one of the instruments that God would use in my personal rebuilding process. Over the next number of years, I learned through firsthand experience the value and power of prayer in rebuilding lives, beginning with my own, which had needs far greater than my understanding was capable of recognizing.

A couple of years later, when God led me to join the ministry’s prayer team in a desire to give back the good that I had been receiving, I was given increased opportunity to discover only more of the good that prayer does. The act of praying is itself a confession of mankind’s true need:  God. It affirms right order between God and men, who are all equal before God. Binding together, prayer strengthens right relationships.

One evening at a ministry session, two members of the prayer team were praying for me when one of the women suddenly became quite excited. With her eyes closed, she exclaimed, “Oh! God is giving you a wonderful gift!”

Growing more excited each moment, she then asked, “Do you see it?”

I didn’t, but I wanted to see it. So I closed my eyes, hoping to see something. But I didn’t see anything. Though the gift that she saw was for me, the vision that God was using to deliver the knowledge of the gift was for her alone. The vision was her gift, connecting us in shared experience in an answer to prayer, delivering much more than I could possibly conceptualize. Years would pass before understanding would even begin to dawn in me, fulfilling even more of the gifts’ intended good.

My friend glowed as she described seeing a glorious array of streamers and colored lights that poured forth from a box that opened to reveal its contents. She then announced, “The gift is honor. God is giving you honor.”

Honor? I was totally baffled. If I hoped for anything from God that evening, it certainly wasn’t honor. After all, honor is reserved for God, isn’t it? People honor God; God doesn’t honor people… or does He?

The extraordinary thought was perplexing. Why would God want to give me something as intangible as honor when I had pronounced physical needs that seemed to me to be of more immediate concern? Though honor sounded nice, and I was appreciative of anything that God wanted to give me, I couldn’t even picture what honor might look like, let alone what it might do for me. It didn’t seem crucial to my wellbeing.

I could not have been any more mistaken.

I repeat, lest anyone (including me) should diminish the significance of that last statement, for its truth stunned me as I typed it.

I could not have been any more mistaken!

The point ringing true is this:  Honor is what God has been rightly restoring in this world since the moment He escorted Adam and Eve from the Garden. (In the bigger picture, God has been restoring honor even longer.) Honor is vital, for it gives and shows proper respect where it is due, maintaining proper order.

When Adam and Eve acted in disobedience, disrespecting God, they burdened themselves with guilt that caused them to hang their heads in shame. They could no longer look God in the eye. Shame stood as a formidablle roadblock in their relationship with their most honorable God—the Father who had given them life. Not only did shame rightfully acknowledge their wrongdoing, it also labeled them as unworthy, leading them into isolation apart from God in a  state of dishonor.

Far too often we incorrectly connect honor to worthiness of our own defining. We reserve respect for people who perform “rightly,” according to a set code of standards of our making. We deem those individuals who measure up as worthy of our attention, giving them awards and rewards for their “good” accomplishments. We define people by their actions.

The problem is that no one does right all of the time. We all fall short of the glory of God, who is the only perfect One among us all. He is the only One who is always right, the only One who is truly honorable.

Yet, God is not due honor only because of what He does, but more so because of who He is. His right actions are a result of His right Being. While God knows this full well, we often get it backwards. While God acts honorably, doing good, because He encompasses all goodness—perfect love, we try to “do good” in order to be honored (given positive attention, commended, loved one way or another). We work (strive) to earn (maintain) our worthiness. We want to be found “acceptable”—labeled as honorably worthy. And, likewise, as we so envision ourselves being labeled, so do we tend to label others. Using our own personal code of worthiness, we assess the words and deeds of others to determine the amount of “honor” that we will willingly bestow upon them.

But people are not their words and deeds. Those are simply a reflection, “good or bad,” of what people think and believe. Indeed, we are all much more than our words and actions. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. As such, we carry the honor that is intrinsic to our Creator. Our very existence honors the One who honors us with our creation. We are worthy, simply by connection to God. It was true in the Garden of Eden by God’s design, and it remains so today through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God’s perfect plan for eternal honor. In both His honoring of God the Father and honored as God, Jesus overcomes the division between God and men that sin created. When we accept Jesus as Savior, we are “hidden in Christ.” His Blood covers us. When God looks at those of us who are in Christ, He sees only His Son’s righteousness, making us worthy in both being and action (confession of faith in Jesus). We are made right forevermore in the eyes of God, who remains perfectly right in seeing us that way. In our acceptance of Jesus, we are perfectly acceptable to God. Our honoring of Jesus instates His honor in us.

God did indeed give me… and He gave you… honor, just as He said. He gave us Jesus—-the ultimate Gift. He couldn’t have bestowed any greater honor upon us. Nor could He have honored Himself any more than He has done in having done so.

During Jesus’ ministry on Earth, Jesus one day purposefully sat alone at a well in Samaria, waiting for a women who was isolated from her fellow townsmen by her shame. Previously she had been married five times, and at this time she was living with a man who was not her husband. Various rejections had left her wounded. Scarred, her imperfection was public knowledge that shrieked in her mind and heart of her unworthiness.

But then came Jesus…

Jesus—The Man of Honor—chose to honor her:  first with His Presence, and then with personal knowledge of Him. Jesus, the Messiah—the Savior of the world, revealed His identity to a woman who needed to be saved from judgement in both this world and the next. In her acceptance of who Jesus is, she realized who was accepting her as worthy of Him. Jesus gave the woman His time, His attention, His words, His love. He presented her with honor that trumped all past shame.

Jesus made her a new woman—one who ran to share her knowledge of Jesus with the people whom she had previously avoided. Her personal relationship with Jesus gave the woman what she needed most:  the respect that accompanied complete acceptance. More important than having given her self-respect, He gave her the respect of God. The gift was one that she could never have earned, which made the gift all the more appreciated. She returned the honor by accepting Jesus for who He said he was. She took Jesus at His Word; she took Him to be her Savior… and He was. He gave her new life.

If we are honest with ourselves and with God, we each have personal Garden of Eden moments in life when our eyes are opened to the degree of sin that we commit against God and others. The Truth puts an end to the lies of self-justification, leaving us with shame-loaded regrets.

But then along comes Jesus…

Full of Truth and grace, Jesus reveals Himself to us in our own “woman at the well” encounters. There He is waiting for each one of us, just as we are:  in need of Him. Only in personal relationship with Jesus can we receive all that we need, for Jesus has given us His all.

The honor of being made forever acceptable/accepted in Christ Jesus may leave us breathless, but it also gives us volumes of Good News to continually share with others. We can’t help but spread the Word.

And every time that we are honored by the opportunity that knowing Jesus affords us to share the Gospel, we can’t help but honor God all the more. That is exactly what Jesus did in His life on Earth:  He honored His Father, not Himself, all of the time. Jesus simply made the decision to live that way, and so can we in Christ by Holy Spirit power. In Christ, life abounds with the honoring of one another, at all times and in all circumstances.

It turns out that mankind’s dishonoring of God is the precise booty that Satan was after when he delivered deceit into the Garden of Eden. It was the path to destruction of the good life on Earth that honored God in reflection of God’s glory. Or, at least, so it appeared. 

But those who don’t look beyond surface appearances to seek greater Truth, miss seeing the bigger picture of opportunity that the Garden sin gave God. Here is what God did with that opportunity:  He paved a road—the Way—of righteousness that intersected with and cut off sin at the center of the Cross.

There hung Jesus—the Centerpiece of God’s Glory, waiting for each person to see Him, just as He is.

And so, now here we are today and forever (if we so choose to be), right where we honor God the most:  in the Centerpiece—the very place that God prepared just for us!

If that doesn’t lift our eyes and bend our knees, nothing will.

To God be the glory! In Christ alone…

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“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!'” (Revelation 5:13)

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