Chapter 5: Honor All People
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king (I Peter 2:17, NAS).”
We see the command “honor all people.” That’s a big one! Even when we do not agree, we are to honor people, all people, which is a seriously tall order. Always, in the face of a dispute, pause and think, “Is what I’m about to say or do going to honor or dishonor this person?” It’s a rule of thumb by which I purpose to live. I fail from time to time, of course but, when I fail, I make it right as soon as possible. The better way, most certainly, is to have as few failures as possible so that our actions do not require apologies. The right path is always the best path with which to begin. This is to eliminate backtracking from a mess initially having done things the wrong way.
We read in the last chapter, “all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” This is a theme throughout the Word of God and it is rarely obeyed. I cannot convey enough how lacking love is among the brethren, the people of God. Such unresolved animosity and hatred are running rampant among those who claim to be among citizens of God’s Kingdom. I can scarcely understand it, yet it is a fact. We must ask ourselves, “What must we do about it? What must I do about it?”
First, the common sense approach is to begin to seek God’s love, how it looks, how it functions, and how we are to take God’s mantle of love and apply it to ourselves. Secondly, once applied to our own lives, learn how to apply it to the brethren (neighbors). Thirdly, and this is crucial, learn how to apply it to non-brethren. If we do not follow this basic and biblical pattern, we will continuously fail ourselves, our family and friends, strangers, and enemies. We have a compulsory standard to love from Heaven and its King:
- Love God (Mark 12:30)
- Love ourselves (Mark 12:31)
- Love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31)
- Love our enemies (Luke 6:27-36)
Some people in the body of Christ comprehend loving their brethren, yet can’t muster enough love so as to love their neighbor who is not within the body of Christ. They hate their neighbor (literal or metaphoric) who is Muslim, gay, an adulterer, philanderer, gambler, liar, and so on. We tend to view “those people” as our enemy and, therefore, justify our hatred against them.
God does not, cannot, and will not condone such behavior. No one can love God and hate their neighbor. There are plenty of folks with whom we do not agree and, furthermore, do not like. The problem with that is, we are not called by God to “like” anyone. We are called to a higher instruction of eternal, heavenly, Kingdom love.
I recently had a meeting at Sophia’s (my teenage daughter) school with the powers that be concerning her education given the fact she’s been so sick. Because of the chronic illness, she has been unable to attend regularly; hence requiring homebound assistance. At this meeting, tempers began to flare between the head of the committee and myself. She was talking about Sophia as though she were a delinquent and I a derelict mother. I don’t care about her opinion of me, but mess with my kids and the scenario becomes much more intense.
My response to her was in a loud tone and very aggressive as was hers. I had prayed before I entered the meeting because I know how they can be; they don’t see Sophia as a person, but merely a number on a schedule to which they must attend and admonish. She was deemed as a problem they must solve. With that prayer, I released to Holy Spirit my tongue, attitude and heart. As a result of that prayer, I said no unkind words and I did not blow up or thrust accusations against them. I simply spoke what was necessary (though aggressively at moments) and moved on. That could only have occurred because I had put on the love of God as armor.
I tell this story because there was a follow-up meeting two weeks later with the superintendent. She, as you may suspect, was present in this meeting. Between the two meetings, I reminded myself that she, the head of the homebound committee, was still just a person. She is a person (of God or of the world, I do not know) who was trying to do her job just as I, a mom, was doing mine. The love of God compelled me to look beyond my aggravation so as to approach her the second time with respect regardless of how I deemed her inaccuracy in Sophia’s assessment as a delinquent.
When I saw her at the start of the meeting, she did not make eye contact with me as she was aware of her misconduct. Notwithstanding, I purposefully greeted her so as to put her at ease. As one can imagine, at the close of the first meeting, I was riled and wouldn’t have minded telling her off; in this I must be honest and candid. As I continually close in with the Savior of all people, I was quickly reminded that I must honor her, despite our differences.
The Scripture in II Peter at the top of the chapter reads, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” Notice God distinguishes separately “honor all people” and “love the brotherhood”. They are two entirely different matters. There is first, how we entreat anyone and everyone, brother or not, and secondly, how we treat our brethren. The distinction is made so as to not justify loving only the brethren but all of mankind. Furthermore, it states thirdly, “fear God” which alone would compel us to extend love and honor to all people and, fourthly, “honor the king (president or other rulers).” The gamut is covered as to whom we are to love and honor.
Chapter 2: Known by Your Love:
“By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35, NAS).”
The Greek word for brotherly love is Philadelphia (Leviticus 19:18; Revelation 1:11, Romans 12:10, I Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1, I Peter 1:22, II Peter 1:7, I Peter 3:8, Revelation 3:7). It is easy to find innumerable hateful Christians, but you will never encounter a hateful authentic follower of Christ (with the exception of someone having a rare moment, but it is the exception and not the rule). Many call themselves “Christians” but do not follow the simple command of love. Everyone can have a bad day, absolutely, but there are many who think themselves ‘of God’ yet are hateful, negative, discouraging, depressing, hopeless and more. This is not of Christ as it is the opposite of Kingdom love.
This one poignant verse in John 13 sets a tone for all other Scriptures concerning love. This is indeed a hefty statement because, when the truth is told, few walk according to such supernatural love. As I look around the professing body of Christ, I dare say, according to this one verse, most who say they are followers of Christ are not. I can make this bold statement because of the severe lack of love permeating from our ‘good church goers.’ To be a Christian is not necessarily the same as being a true follower of Christ; the terminology “Christian” is vague at best.
I do not say this to condemn anyone as the purpose here is love and to guide us all into deeper levels of love. However, I say this so as to address the problem so that it may be rectified. There really isn’t much more I can say so as to elaborate about such great love for the brethren as it speaks plainly to the heart of the matter. I suggest to everyone who believes themselves to be called by the name of Jesus to take a personal assessment, to do a self-evaluation of how they extend love toward themselves, family, friends, co-workers, bosses, clerks, strangers, and, equally as important, toward their enemies.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47 (NAS)
What we see depicted in Matthew 5 is scarcely visible in the modern-day church. For those who’ve attended any denominational church in their lifetime knows full well the lack of affection one has for another. People fight for rights to leadership, positions, to have their voice heard, and any other such nonsense. Without the body of Christ unifying as we ought for the greater good of the Kingdom of God, we will continue to shred God’s name, His Kingdom and His Word; hence, many who believe themselves filled with God’s Kingdom have been deceived by a lie from the great deceiver. Religion as a whole is set directly against the Kingdom of God so as to delude the masses into thinking they are “of God” yet are of the evil one. Remember, Christ was killed by the religious.
I ask with all humility: When will the fighting, hatred, and malice end? When will we cease being lovers of self and begin to place others above ourselves, the Kingdom of God above our own desires, and to walk a life of ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’? How we treat our family with love is indicative of human nature. How we treat our enemies with love is indicative of how much we love, value and reverence God, His Word and His Kingdom.
Whom Do You Love More?
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. II Timothy 3:1-5 (NAS)
II Timothy 3 speaks volumes about the condition of man, not just those in the world but those who call themselves by the name of Christ. All the things listed above are clearly visible by many who call themselves Christians. Why? Because we are in the last days and, if possible, even the elite will be deceived (Matthew 24:24). Right under our noses are preachers, teachers, apostles, prophets, and evangelists under the ruse of Jesus’ name only to spread more dissention. These people are the false ministers for which we have been warned. True apostles, prophets, preachers, evangelists and teachers will lead us into the unity of the Spirit instead of their own group. By example and word, these will teach the hearers to follow in the footsteps of love.
When someone who claims to follow Christ breeds prejudice or hatred of any kind, be assured they are false; they are of the evil one, the father of lies. Let us begin to set our hearts toward the Holy One of Israel and find the love to which we are called. We must begin to view our brethren and neighbors as ourselves, not as merely a partner against whom we have the right to fight.
I must be transparent. The “mamma bear” Alexys and the “minister” Alexys are often in conflict. As a minister, I purpose to live a life of balance, love, patience, kindness, holiness and to be at peace with everyone, at least as far as it is up to me. Adversely, as a mother of a chronically ill child, I often feel the urge to, at the very least, tell someone off. Or, at the worst, punch someone squarely between the eyes for their neglect, bullying or disregard for my child who only wants to be well and accepted by her peers.
For example (in no particular order):
- Dealing with doctors who pass her around from this one to that one or one questions another’s diagnosis or treatment and look at me as though I’ve done something wrong.
- When kids her age at school or elsewhere tease and/or bully her because they don’t understand her situation, why she likes colored hair, why she’s so shut down, or why she doesn’t fit the acceptable body image.
- When the youth pastor at our church refuses, though begged repeatedly over a year, to reach out to her or have girls her age reach out to her. He visited her once, had a couple girls text her a few times and, just like that, she was quickly discarded and forgotten like yesterday’s news.
- Dealing with the school powers-that-be who threaten to call truancy because they question the word of doctors as though she isn’t really too sick to attend; who demand meeting after futile meeting.
In the aforementioned scenarios, yes, I definitely want to scream at and hit someone albeit completely contradictory to who I am in Christ. These are the times where I preach the Word of God to myself so as not to completely ruin my testimony for the Christ whom I love and serve. Mamma-bear has, on occasion, gotten the better of me because I despise the injustice thrown at my kid.
The struggle is real and I have to combat it on a regular basis. When these people who are in positions to help my child do not and, furthermore, cause more harm, I battle with mamma-bear, with the inclination of my fleshly man to do what would otherwise come very natural to me. My personality is very aggressive, forthright, proactive and protective and, therefore, it would be nothing for me to blast someone (and I have). I purpose daily to walk according to the Spirit of the Living God versus my natural man. I have to daily find the balance between knowing when and what to speak to whom and just letting loose when the notion strikes.
I have definitely learned, throughout all of this that, in fact, I am fully capable of restraint, patience, and silence; that I can choose to be self-controlled, to be silent when necessary, and, when I speak up, I can do so without yelling or demeaning the person at which my words are directed.
I Corinthians 1:27: “but I discipline my body to make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
October 8, 2013
Standing in Judgment
““Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions…Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way…(Romans 14:1, 4, 7-13, NAS).”
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1, NAS).”
It is exceedingly difficult, nay, impossible, for the flesh of mankind to not pass judgment on those who offend and/or irritate us. However, it is through the Spirit of God exclusively that we are supernaturally capable of overcoming such judgment against others. Sufficed to say, there is no one who can honestly say that judgment does not cross their mind and heart from time to time – after all, it is human nature and we dwell temporarily is this earthen vessel. In order to be successful in this or any area of God’s commands, we must remember that we are no longer of the human race, but of the heavenly race. We are but strangers and aliens in the earth sent from heaven to bring heaven down to earth. This is so because we are dead and our only life is Christ. In other words, once in Christ, our earthly origin ceases and our heavenly origin begins.
If you’re like I, people irritate you! In our irritation, judgment can easily take hold of our hearts and grow bitter roots. Hebrews 12:15 is clear about bitterness: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Operating in a judgmental/critical spirit against others no matter how innocent it may seem, causes bitter roots to spring within our hearts like weeks and they taint not only our walk with God with it takes others down with us.
Because of the nature of the flesh in which we remain, it is altogether a necessity to hone in on the Spirit of God within us through our spirit-man. If we do not daily (moment to moment) purposefully tap into Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves in the midst of fleshly judgment. We can defend it all day long, but unless we, one, choose to recognize that we have indeed passed critical judgment in our hearts as well as, two, choose to repent of it and lay it at the foot of the cross, things will not change as we would otherwise hope. Pray though we may for God to remove us or the irritant, nothing will change until we allow God to transform us from the inside out and love and accept others as they are. We are not to regard a brother with contempt. This is why we are urged to go to a brother with whom we have a problem so as to resolve the matter. We are to conclude our conflicts, not simply for our selves, but for the greater good of the Kingdom of God. For this reason, there is to be unity between the brethren and we should seek peace at all times, respecting one another.
One who is rebellious, for instance, will be perpetually faced with people who “force” them to rebel because, from where God stands, He recognizes the need for the weaknesses of rebellion to be exposed so that the individual will choose to deal with it through God’s strength. Otherwise, if they continue in their rebellion, the same old obstacles and irritating people will continuously come in their path; hence, frustration remains.
Likewise, one who is impatient will continually come in contact with people who try their patience. One who is timid in their faith will continuously be put in situations where they need to be bold. One who is confrontational will be put in situations where they need to submit in both humility and silence, and so on. For me personally, the nature of the flesh in which I dwell is exceedingly confrontational! I have to be diligent with my time tapping into Holy Spirit continuously so as to be able to clearly discern when to confront a situation and when to be silent. In everything we say and do, it is a walk of balance that can only come from personal intimacy with Holy Spirit. There should never be a break in our communion with Yahweh.
Until we begin to view everything in everyday life as for the Kingdom of God instead of for or against us personally, not only will circumstances not change, but they will invariably grow worse. Since everything ultimately originates from God whether it comes from Satan’s hand or wicked men, we must say with humility instead of irritation, “What is it You, Yahweh, are trying to show me that I have not yet seen? Reveal my weaknesses to me so that Your strength may prevail in order for Your Kingdom to be advanced through me in the earth. I trust You and submit to You for Your honor and Your glory. Whatever You desire, I desire. Whatever You love, I love. Whatever You hate, I hate.”
There’s always a lesson. There’s always a God-plan. There’s always hope. There’s always growth that He desires to come forth from us, for us and, most importantly, for His great name’s sake. No situation or scenario is in vain or to hurt us. It isn’t even for punishment’s sake; it is always for the Kingdom of God. May we keep our spiritual eye open to see the bigger picture always and remember that you do not belong to yourself, but to the Lord our Great God. I remind myself of this daily so as to stay on heavenly point instead of veering away from the path of God.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”
(Lucifer) You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering; the ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared…your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
Ezekiel 28:12-17 (NAS)
(King Belshazzar) “But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory (Daniel 5:20, NAS).”
See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. Obadiah 1:2-4 (NAS)
Satan was cast out from heaven by God specifically due to his pride. Pride led him to rebel against Yahweh. When Lucifer stood next to God, His light would shine upon Lucifer’s jewels placed upon him by God. It was God’s beauty reflecting off Lucifer that made him beautiful, yet Lucifer’s beauty was not his own. In like fashion, any beauty you or I may have, it is not ours therefore we are not to be prideful. Lucifer became blinded by the brilliant light reflecting off him. His wisdom became corrupt and ineffective and caused him to determine greater things about himself than what was real.
Everyone wants to be God or like God and to have all of His power, but few want to be like Jesus, lowly and humble. Jesus is the only connection humans have to God the Father, His Kingdom, and His glory.
One can never crush an enemy that is invisible; neither can we crush him if we do not know he is attacking. Satan has strategically tricked mankind into attributing many behavioral patterns in our lives to reasons other than what is true. It is pride that hinders us from seeking the Lord and praying; hence causing us to walk in discord with others.
As David E. Taylor points out in his book, Victory Over Pride, pride also hinders us from receiving correction, blessings, reproof, instruction, wisdom, knowledge, and the fullness of God. It is pride that hinders people from looking at others the way Jesus does which is with single eye. Pride binds and blinds! A sign of a mature Christian is one who can humbly receive correction or rebuke, deserved or undeserved.
“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins’ (Romans 11:26-27, NAS).”
If there is a way into a situation, there is a way out. No matter what our weaknesses, if we are humble enough to deal with it through Holy Spirit, when the weaknesses arise, we will grow stronger in Christ instead of weaker. This is what is meant in II Peter 3:18, “grow in grace”. The Father can exalt us as we walk humbly as did Jesus. Many ministries have fallen from the place God ordained because of the division and strife caused by pride. We would all get further in life, relationships, businesses, ministry, etc., if we would humble ourselves to walk as Jesus walked and approach situations as He.
“God has exalted Jesus and gave Him a name above all names,” reads Philippians 2:9. We are to make ourselves of no reputation. We need be ourselves as Yahweh restructures us and let God make our name great. If we humble our name, He will make it great. If we exalt our own name, He cannot. Jesus never got into arguments, contentions or disagreements with people or even with His enemies. He retained peace that surpassed all understanding and knowledge (Philippians 4:7). He has left us that same peace; we need simply to choose to retain it.
“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor (Proverbs 15:33, NAS).”
“Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud (Proverbs 16:19, NAS).”
Just as pride comes before the fall, humility comes before honor. There is no honor without humility first. Humility dictates that a person demands to be judged and reckoned by others. A pious person finds little difficulty humbling himself to God, but balks at being treated with contempt by their superiors, equals or inferiors in their life. We need to be exceedingly cautious of prideful- humility, or in other words, false humility.
If outward humility is not the result of inward humility, it is very dangerous because it becomes an outward show of deceit. To put it another way: the outward expression of humility must always be a result of inward grace at work. Humility is the direct nature of God. Take advantage of every opportunity of humility.
Jesus is the perfect example of humility. We all know that if we are accused of something for which we are guilty, we must confess, apologize and make it right. However, what if we are wrongfully accused? What then? Do we have the right to jump into a debate with someone, yelling (or calmly stating) how wrong they are about us? Absolutely not! Rather, instead of arguing we should respond by apologizing to them for having given them the impression that we did or said what they think we did or said. Ask how we can make it right. How can they come against you?
We need to get it in our spirit-man that our defender (Christ) is far greater than the offender (Satan). We are never to defend ourselves. Walk away if we must, but don’t get into a showdown of words trying to convince someone they are wrong. When has that ever accomplished anything good? When someone thinks something in their heart, no amount of words we speak can turn them away. Only God can change a heart. Don’t waste time and energy, and for heaven’s sake, don’t jeopardize your personal walk with God because someone thinks something incorrect. It isn’t worth it. God will prove them wrong in time; we needn’t concern ourselves with such petty matters because truth will always surface in due season. Keep integrity intact and it will protect you in the long run.
“Agree quickly with your adversary (Matthew 5:25, NAS).”
“It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded (II Corinthians 6:7, NAS).”
“We are to clothe ourselves daily in humility (I Peter 5:5, NAS).”
We are thinking only of ourselves when we are more concerned about being wronged rather than what the Lord wants us to learn or see in a situation. Let God work the perfect work of patience and love in us. Daily we must ask God to strip us of any and all pride, bathe us in righteousness and clothe us in humility. Ask God to help increase faith deep within. The stronger the faith, the closer the walk, the easier to recognize pride, the faster we are to allow Him to help remove it and replace it with humility, the more we look like Jesus. This is where the Scripture of pulling down strongholds and imaginations enters:
For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. II Corinthians 10:3-6 (NAS)
When our thoughts become prideful and we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, take the authority Jesus Christ has given His people and pull it down. This text in II Corinthians is written because God understands the frail condition of the flesh. Don’t allow it to stay and fester and manifest in any area of life. Pride is foolishness on any and every level. Be “ready to punish all disobedience” in life.
Pray for Holy Spirit to stir up discernment; if Jesus is in you, discernment is also. Remember, there is a difference between discernment and prejudice; between righteous judgment and being judgmentalism. Commit to being humble and confess daily to Yahweh that you choose to walk humbly in all of your ways. Command the spirits of pride and rebellion to depart from your midst, and replace them with humility and obedience. Holy Spirit within is the only One who has the power to overcome pride. Allow Him to guide you into holiness, humility, and obedience. Excerpt from Holy Spirit Who? by Alexys V. Wolf