ARE WE CRIMINAL'S
OR GOD'S PEOPLE?
A well-known axiom states, "believers are famous for crucifying their own." Perhaps it is better said this way, "believers are famous for dishonoring one another." From C. S. Lewis, "I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him." Sadly, God's people emotionally and verbally cannibalize one another almost as criminals that committed some extraordinary crime against humanity. This ruthlessness causes us to wonder if we are speaking of criminals or God's people?
There is no question, the world's view of God's House would be viewed differently if Romans 12:10-11 took root in more people: "Give preference to one another in honor; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." For sure, more people would discover the House that our Father built. Still, Gossip and slander are the genuine rivals and adversaries of honor. Its opposite is also in the service of guarding others' reputation, or as Bernard of Clairvaux puts it, "the service of charity."
James states in chapter 4, "Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it." He goes on to say, "there are only one lawgiver and judge, the one who can save and destroy." Jeremiah, the prophet, also spoke of seven abominations in the ancient community that are easily found today. I caution you. The following words are difficult to hear: "Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver and, every friend a slanderer. Friends deceive friends, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie. They weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit, they refuse to acknowledge me declares the Lord." (Jeremiah, 9:4-8). Mark Twain gives an insightful comment on this topic: "It takes your enemy and your friend working together to hurt you to the quick; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you." These words may seem harsh but continue to read on beloved, and you will agree.
AN EVIL TONGUE
Twain's words echo Jesus's teachings, "Do unto others as you have them do unto you." (Luke 6:31) Luke's words parallel Lashon Hara, לשון הרע, or an evil tongue in Hebrew, which is one of the Jewish ethics of speech. It states, "Even when something is true about someone, it is not for someone else to know. Passing on a negative fact about someone even if it is true engages in a behavior that lowers the status of another about whom it is said." Lashon Hara teaches that such behavior is forbidden and considered an "evil tongue"—insulting someone is worse than cheating him or her financially. You see, money can be returned and re-made. Lasting pain, on the other hand, is caused by harmful vicious words. Proverbs 18:8 is an important scripture here, "The words of a talebearer (gossiper) are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost part of the belly."
As we have been considering honor, have we found its opposite, shame? Pause for a moment to consider this. Dishonoring someone is inflicting shame upon them. The problem is that honor and shame are often thought of more in psychological terms. However, the Bible connects honor to a person's identity and even social status. So, honoring our spiritual leaders is due to their status and calling in the House of our Father. Honor restores not only dignity, then, but God's design. And aren't we all fellow heirs and children of the Most-High, worthy of honor and honoring one another? Of course! This benefit traces back to our individual and corporate status as God's children.
Consider then the following steps that we can take to bring honor back into the House that our Father built. Cease from slander, Gossip, and complaining about leaders, brothers, and sisters in the Lord. This would be the most transformative action that we can take. Determine instead to follow in the way of the sons of God, and strive to honor one another. Then esteem one another and respect one another. This also doesn't come from the warm and fuzzy feelings that we often like to have for each other. It comes solely from the duty of the heart.
Knowing one's heart's duty is to know one's responsibility as God's people and understand how to act in any given situation through our interaction with one another. For instance, when leaders refuse to uphold the sanctity and honor of their own offices, God's people must not follow suit. You see, only with a sense of duty will God's people stem the tide of diminishing honor in the family of God. Here is an added benefit that Proverbs reveals about the connection between honor and prosperity in one's own life, "He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor" (see also Proverbs 21:21; 22:4; 29:23).
Contrary to the community of faith, the world is filled with figurative harlot types. Harlotry is an axis power that dangerously seeks to deflect the glory and authority away from God rather than return it to Him. Though this living organism's birth has been around since this living organism, we call the Church, people whose spirits are rooted in rebellion like diviners seeking to find their own ways. We give little thought, for instance, to the fact that self-glory and promotion always come at the expense of others. Paul states in Romans 15:20, "It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation." In the House of God, we seek our Father's glory, will, and purpose. Through honor, we magnify our difference from the harlotry of the world. Now, this may sound idealistic to many. But again, the purpose of this work is to re-discover our family principles and the House that our Abba built.
HONORING ISRAEL and
THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Earlier, we have noted the importance of honoring Israel and the Jewish people. We cannot conclude this chapter on honor without a word on honoring the Jewish people due to God's unmistakable injunction on it. Here we offer a brief overview of their distinction. In Romans, we learn that the Jewish people were given an irrevocable calling and election. According to Romans 11: 29-32, "Regarding the Gospel, they are enemies on your account; but regarding an election, they are loved on account of the patriarchs. For God's gifts and His call." Honoring Israel and the Jewish people will also take a church or individual into unchartered waters of blessing. Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those that bless thee and curse them that curse thee." This idea of recognizing the Jewish people who preserved the Bible and brought the Gospel to the nations is all about honor. Honoring them is to seek their survival as a people and to support their destiny. When doing so, you attach yourself to a profound substratum of divine design undergirding the very foundations of the family of God. After all, the body comprises distinction, diversity, and broad purpose, often unique one from the other, yet part of the same family. Consider the following list of distinctions that Israel and the Jewish people possess on the following page.
DISTINCT CALLING: THE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE A DISTINCT CALLING AND RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. No other nation and people were personally and directly chosen. They had a direct covenant with God and were communicated to by God through these (the Abrahamic Covenant, Land Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and New Covenants. God gave no other nation a specific land to call their own and that he would return too. Hence, people remain who can trace their history and occupation to a homeland that is more than three thousand years old.
DISTINCT HISTORY: THE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE A DISTINCT HISTORY. No other nation or people have been so systematically and relentlessly pursued destruction and persecution. No other nation rests at the center of a relational drama with God that unfolds from one chapter to the next. Israel is called in the Old Testament, the "Wife of Jehovah."
DISTINCT PROPHETIC DESTINY: NO OTHER NATION WAS GIVEN AN IRREVOCABLE CALLING WITH CLEAR AND SPECIFIC DETAILS. No other nation is essential to the return of the Lord and the completion of the Messianic Order.
DISTINCT RELATIONSHIP TO THE NATIONS: NO OTHER NATIONS HAS BEEN CALLED TO BE A SERVANT AND PRIESTLY NATION TO THE NATIONS. No other nation has been called to be the nation's head in a future kingdom under Jesus. Finally, no other nation was told by God that all other nations would be blessed if they bless them and cursed if they curse them (Isaiah 42:6; Genesis 12:3).
DISTINCT IDENTITY: NO OTHER NATION IS CALLED GOD'S FIRSTBORN SON, the apple of his eye, His chosen people, or peculiar treasure ( No other nation was given the covenant of circumcision to make a physical distinction from the nations.
1. Honor our Parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2).
2. Honor the Feasts (Exodus 23:14).
3. Honor the Sabbath (4th Commandment).
4. Honor God’s Holy name (I Chronicles 16:10; I Timothy 6:6).
5. Honor our employers (I Timothy 6:1).
6. Honor civil authorities (I Peter 2:13-17).
7. Honor fellow believers (Romans 12:10).
8. Honor our spiritual leaders (I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17).
9. Honor preachers of God’s Word (I Timothy 5:17).
10. Honor a person that lives above reproach (Proverbs 11:16)
11. Honor a gracious woman (Proverbs 11:16).
12. Husbands give honor to your wife (I Peter 3:7).
13. Honor Israel and the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).
1. In what ways can you personally aid the church in becoming a healthier family?
2. In the KJV, “Harlot” is used often. Identify the references and describe their context. In what ways is it applicable to the believer today, particularly Revelation 7:14?
3. Harlotry is trying to gain favor for personal gain. Cite areas where this might be evident in the family of God?
4. In what ways can you personally work to honor your spiritual leaders? How can the community demonstrate the honor of their leaders more effectively?
5. Can you identify situations where a leader is not honored? From the end of the chapter references, describe how the community, as well as individuals, can bring “honor” back
to the family of God?
6. In what ways has man remained unchanged? Identify them in the family of God?
7. List some things that an individual and a church can do to
honor the Jewish people, their calling.