Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Honour: UP

Part 1 of a 3 part blog on honour: Up, In, Out.

In 2001 on the American Antiques Roadshow a startling discovery was made. A blanket that for many years had sat on the back of an old rocking chair was valued in the region of $350 000-500 000.

The owner had thought it was simply a family blanket, passed down a generation or two but in actual fact it was Navajo Indian.  It once belonged to a man named Kit Carson, a famous frontiersman and Indian fighter. 

The blanket was extremely valuable but for many years its value wasn't recognised, it was overlooked.

I think that deep down all of us believe that if we search long enough we'll unearth our very own rare antique and become billionaires along with Del Boy and Rodney. Oftentimes people refuse to throw things away. Who knows maybe one day they'll be the ones with a gold chair when the music stops.

The truth is that we can all miss the value of something. Whenever we throw something away there's always that part of us that questions what we're doing - it'd be tragic not spot the value of something and throw it out. Some things are easy to spot the value of. If you were to empty your pockets out and a pound coin fell on the floor along with a penny, there's no question which one you'd pick up first. Other things are less easy to spot, like the Navajo blanket or Del Boy's watch.

The Bible has a lot to say about the value of things. It uses the word 'honour' and makes the bold statement that the reason so much of the world is in such a mess is simply because we haven't honoured the things that deserve to be honoured. We've dishonoured honourable things and treated with contempt the most valuable things on the planet.

In Paul's letter to the church in Rome he says (talking about mankind at its beginning):

'For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise they became fools... Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creatures rather than the Creator who is blessed fo ever!'

According to the Bible a lot of the mess we find ourselves in stems from the simple fact that we haven't honoured God as he deserves to be honoured. We haven't seen the value of the most valuable thing in all the universe. Paul says that not honouring God, led to trouble for us.

Honour God


God is worthy of all honour as our creator and saviour. In Revelation 5 we're given a glimpse into the presence of God, we're shown what goes on behind the curtains into the unseen realm:

Then I looked and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!'

We ought to honour, what is honoured in heaven by the angels. Heaven honours the lamb Jesus and declares that he deserves and is 'worthy' of power, wealth, wisdom, might, glory and honour.

Honour up.

Honouring God is the de-misting of our glasses, it enables us to see clearly. It's then that we're able to recognise the value of everything else. Paul's comment in Romans was that humanity's hearts were 'darkened' by not honouring God rightly. Honouring God, then, dispels darkness.

When Jesus called his disciples he told them to leave what they were doing and follow him instead. His call wasn't simply to consider a career change, or an invitation to go on a long walk, it involved what they were spending their lives on. In essence Jesus' call was to 'spend your life on me'. He called them to put their trust in him, look to him for security and provision rather than their employment or business. He called them to give the best years of their youth to him. He called them, essentially, to honour him with everything they had. The call and their willingness to follow serves I think as a good example of what it means to honour God.

Honouring God is about much more than keeping the rules or trying to do right, it's about recognising his supreme value and worth. It's about laying everything we have at his feet and at his service. It's what Paul had in mind when he wrote 'offer yourselves as living sacrifices to God.' It affects my time, my energy and my money. It involves me loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Proverbs 3:9 says 'honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing,' and Proverbs 14:31 'Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker but whoever is kind to the needy honours the Lord.' Honouring God involves how I spend my money, how I treat the needy and everything else in between.

How are you at honouring the Lord? What would it take for you to stop honouring God?

A.w. Tozer has said that 'the idol of the day is a kind of jellyfish Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew.'

We live at a time where conviction isn't cool. We steer away from being too earnest and intense about anything - least of all God. Material comfort seduces us into honouring God in lip service and duty only. Across the world today many people will be putting themselves in harms way simply because they honour God. In countries where it is illegal to be a Christian some will perhaps even die for their decision to honour God.

Jack Deere in his book 'Surprised by the Voice of God' recalls a moving example of someone who honoured God at the cost of his life. In 1682 John Brown and his wife Isabel, together with their children, were visited by a man called John Graham of Claverhosue at the head of a troop of soldiers. He demanded that Brow repented of his conviction that Christ was the head of the church rather than the King of England, Brown refused. Deere then picks up the story:

'Then go to your prayers, for you shall die immediately,' replied Graham. Brow prayed and turned to his wife Isabel and said, 'You see me summoned to appear, in a few minutes, before the court of heaven, as a witness in our Redeemer's cause, against the Ruler of Scotland. Are your willing that I should part from you?'
'Heartily willing,' said Isabel. John took her into his arms, kissed her goodbye, then kissed his baby boy. He knelt down before his two-year old daughter, kissed her and said, 'My sweet child, give your hand to God as your guide; and be your mother's comfort.' When he rose his last words were to God: 'Blessed be thou, O Holy Spirit, that speaks more comfort to my heart than the voice of my oppressors can speak terror to my ears!' Captain Graham of Claverhouse was enraged at John Brown's godly courage. He ordered six of his soldiers to shoot him where he stood. The soldiers stood motionless, refusing the order. The furious Graham drew his own pistol and shot Brown through the head.
With a cruelty that is difficult to imagine, he then turned to Isabel and asked, 'What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?'
'I have always thought well of him,' the widow replied, 'but never more so than now.'

Fathers, husbands, wives, children, students, employers, employees; honour God. Honour God when it's easy to do so and when everyone else is doing so but honour him also when it's hard, when you're on your own or when it's unpopular to do so. When it makes for an easier to life to lie, be truthful. When it's more convenient to be less than honest with your financial dealings, pursue integrity. When no one is watching and it would make no apparent difference, honour God. 

When no one will find out or notice honour God anyway.

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