One of the most difficult problems we face as believers, and particularly those in ministry and leadership, is HONOR. Many aspects of faith and spiritual life are negated when the honor of man comes into the picture.
How can you have faith when you receive honor from one another instead of the honor that comes only from God?
Perhaps the temptation here is so subtle because this human pride comes close to the glory of God. In Hebrew, the word “kavod,” can be used either for the glory cloud and fire of the presence of God, or for this petty self-deluding need of human beings to want to be respected and honored by others. In Israel, rabbis, cabinet members and judges are referred to as “Kavod.”
Perhaps the need for honor is so intense because we all inherited horrible shame at the moment that Adam and Eve sinned. They were clothed with the honor and glory of God before the fall. The desire to be re-clothed with glory still burns deep down inside. The need for honor from other human beings is the cheap substitute for that glory.
Some who have great zeal for ministry are partially motivated by seeking honor. My wife comments that many men have this male “ego thing,” which drives them to accomplish things (author’s note: I can’t imagine who she is talking about). Part of that is good in which it helps to achieve goals, but part of it is a hypocritical cover up for selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3).
There is a good kind of honor that involves integrity and courage; and another kind that is seeking the glory of God (Romans 2:10). However, when someone feels his honor has been violated, he becomes offended (Proverbs 18:19) and loses all spiritual discernment and perspective. One of the first guidelines I would say to those in leadership training is: Never be offended. Let’s be the kind of people who are “unoffendable.”
Note: I hesitated writing this article because I know people in different parts of the world who might think I wrote this about them. It reminds me of an old pop song, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” But of course, it’s about all of us.
An extreme example of honor being offended, causing people to lose objectivity, may be seen in the international rioting that occurred in the Muslim world after the publishing of the Danish cartoons about Muhammed. They could not see that their reaction was out of proportion to the offense itself.
Honor is like money in the sense that it becomes evil mammon when we take it, and a holy offering when we give it. We are to give honor to whom it is due (Romans 13:7). We are to prefer one another in honor (Romans 12:10).
I Corinthians 12:22-25
Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker… and the parts we think are less honorable, we treat with special honor… Greater honor is given to the parts that lack it, so that there should be no division in the body.
In family, congregation, business, or diplomacy, we must continue to shower honor on those who may easily feel rejected or disrespected. Making effort to lift up the honor of others and to put down our own honor is essential to maintaining UNITY. This is also true in dealing with reconciliation between different ethnic groups in the international body of Christ.
My wife has another expression that really rich people don’t have to flaunt their money, whereas those who don’t have real wealth need to show off what they have. In spiritual terms, those with real wisdom, anointing and authority can “down play” what they have. They don’t need to promote themselves and their “ministry.” “Do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do…to be honored of men” – Matthew 6:2).
As always, our greatest example of godly behavior is found in Yeshua (Jesus) on the cross. He divested Himself of glory. He put aside His honor completely. He had so much internal honor that He could “afford” to allow Himself to be dishonored by men, in order to “buy” back for us our true honor.
Let this attitude be in you which was in Messiah Yeshua, who being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant…
This is not just what He did for us; it is also how we are to act toward others. Those who are weak and soulish need to be honored. Those who are strong in faith will give honor to others. This is how Yeshua secured for Himself the greatest level of honor. His honor was crucified there on the tree. Let us crucify ours there as well.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.