A few weeks ago I sat around a table with some of the most anointed and gifted people I’ve ever known in my life. In the last nine months these people have not only become my co-workers, but also many are my friends, my encouragers, my overseers and those who challenge me to be the person God created me to be every single day.
As I have weighed these verses over and over again against the analogy and challenge of the book our department was encouraged to read I found myself asking myself: How did God demonstrate this honor?
I came up with some answers:
1.) The example of the woman at the well. He did not scold or condemn her – he didn’t even treat her like she’d done anything wrong. He gently and honestly reflected truth to her in such a way that she walked away encouraged, excited and determined to live in the change that had been revealed to her because she encountered Christ and He told her that she could be different. He revealed to her a truth she had never known which allowed her take responsibility for her choices and welcome His admonition to “Go, and sin no more.”
2.) He sacrificed His own comfort and His own position so that others could be redeemed, restored, delivered, healed and set free. He gave Himself up to death so that sinners could be redeemed from a fallen, damned existence and become the beloved children of the Most High God, and Co-Heirs – sharers in and partakers of God’s Kingdom as His own.
3.) He wept with them and sympathized with them. He gave them a choice and did not force them to do it His way. He did not tolerate injustice or self-righteous elitism, but instead he demonstrated unconditional love and grace by providing for needs, teaching patiently, and entrusting those who came to Him to make the decisions necessary to align them with His Father’s will.
Do I give greater honor to those things which are less honorable?
I think for me that this issue has been blurred by how I was raised to understand respect, honor, humility and how it is distributed. I was raised by a father who demanded respect for his position and rightfully so as Colossians commends us to submit to the authorities in our life as all authority is God-ordained.
I grew up believing respect initiated from a position of enforced humility. Positionally someone received my respect (my fear) because they had the power to influence, control and empower me. I feared what I respected and felt that was honoring my authority when indeed most of my life was active rebellion. Gossip filled moments of destructive and powerless behavior. I felt powerless and stripped others of their power without thinking of what the cost would ultimately be.
I didn’t know what honor, truth, love and grace were really all about. God was just some big, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who was distant, removed and unconcerned with me — Expect, when I screwed up. Then I saw Him saying “GOTCHA!” That’s how I related to others. I lived hiding out and scared to show who I really was and I never knew how to keep it from consuming me.
Respect is something that I give from an attitude of honor in my heart towards everyone because they are God’s creation. He deemed them worthy by sacrificing His Son on the cross for them. He honored them to His death and empowered us to honor them — even when they are less honorable — because I have been less honorable and He did not disqualify me.
God honors my free will, who am I to discount another’s will in favor of what I think they should do.
Do I try to balance the scales by giving out of the overflow of my relationship with God to those who are lacking in some way?
Do I really respond to people based on the way God has created them and redeemed them?
Is my concern for them to realize their God-given identity and be empowered to walk in the freedom He redeemed them to live in