A Culture Of Honor
Recently I read Philippians 2:1-5 with new spiritual eyes as if for the first time with joy in my spirit, yes, but also with deep conviction. Here Paul painted a picture of the consideration and grace we owe one another in God's family. God pierced my heart and spirit with this passage:
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Phil 2:1-5
Two Sundays later a homeless man came to church. An usher seated him in a place of honor by himself and his wife. That really convicted me.
I have been thinking a lot about a culture of honor and what that means for me and for Christian community, including family and church. Life in community with others is the proving ground of life in Christ.
Much of our society has dissolved into dishonor and disrespect in attitudes and communication. It seeps into our hearts and spirits, aided and abetted by the accuser of the brethren. Life flows through honor, and death comes through dishonor, disrespect, criticism, and judgment. Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
Honor begins with knowing that God the Father honored us by creating us in his image and Jesus the Son came to earth in the incarnation to enter our world and be our sinless sacrifice. Honor continues with honoring God in our hearts enough to honor others whom he created in his image and honoring the humility of the sacrifice and death of Christ (Phil. 2:5-8). I am so much more aware of honoring others for who they are because of God, not for what they do or don't do. One meaning of honor is to treat as priceless. Everybody can say, "I am somebody, because God loves me." When we see others that way, we honor God and we give life. I want to be a life-giver.
Having the attitude of Christ means letting Christ live His life through me. What a standard! It is attainable only by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit at work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. Paul said that Christ in us is our hope of glory. We submit ourselves to others by the power of His grace, so that God may demonstrate His character in how we relate to them.
We can begin to honor others by asking the question, "How does Jesus see this person? Is my attitude the same?" Every day Philippians 2:5 can make a difference in our hearts, words, and actions.
In His Word, God expounded many times on the second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself." To help us be specific, not just speak in generalities, the New Testament has many one another commands, not suggestions or good ideas for how to be nice like your mother taught you.
For each command, study the key words. Don't assume that you know what a word means because it is familiar. Note any observations God gives you. Write out the meaning of the command in your own words. Ask God how it applies to you. Then pray what He tells you to pray: confess, repent, commit to obedience, etc.
In the presence of your Father, get on your knees before these "one another" commands. Let Him use these standards as a measuring stick of your life. See how desperately you need Him to satisfy all the righteous demands of His holy love. Ask God how He wants to apply these commands personally, with names and faces of real people and situations. Let each one bring forth a desperate heart cry to be made like Christ in every particular. Oh Lord, it's me, standing in need of what only You can do in me!
Love one another. John 13:34-35, 15:12,17; Romans 13:8, Hebrews 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 4:8; 1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,11,12; 2 John 5
Be devoted to one another. Romans 12:10
Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12:16
Stop passing judgment on one another. Romans 14:13
Accept one another. Romans 15:7
Instruct one another. Romans 15:14
Greet one another with a holy kiss. Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Peter 5:14
Agree with one another. 1 Corinthians 1:10
Do not deprive each other. 1 Corinthians 7:5
Have equal concern for each other. 1 Corinthians 12:25
Serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 4:10
Don't bite and devour one another. Galatians 5:15
Do not provoke and envy each other. Galatians 5:26
Carry one another's burdens. Galatians 6:2
Bear with one another. Ephesians 4:2
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other. Ephesians 4:32
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Ephesians 5:19
Submit to one another. Ephesians 5:21
Agree with each other. Philippians 4:2
Do not lie to each other. Colossians 3:9
Bear with each other and forgive grievances against one another. Colossians 3:13
Teach and admonish one another. Colossians 3:16
Encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 4:18; Hebrews 10:25
Live in peace with each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Be kind to each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Encourage one another daily. Hebrews 3:13
Consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
Do not slander one another. James 4:11
Don't grumble against each other. James 5:9
Confess your sins to each other. James 5:16
Live in harmony with one another. 1 Peter 3:8
Offer hospitality to one another. 1 Peter 4:9
Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. 1 Peter 5:5
Jesus, in myself I want to love only the lovely and lovable. Forgive me, and pour out Your Spirit in my heart to love, exactly as You love them, those people you have assigned to be my "grace-growers." They are Your tools to make me in the agape image of Jesus.