Wow! What a great week with the RIM leaders and various RIM connections. Thank you to those who came and thank you to those who prayed for a good gathering for us all. God’s presence was wonderful and the leading of the Holy Spirit was a treasure. Today I am in Wisconsin after a good family reunion on Saturday. I am now having a special time with a life-long friend. Before my day begins, let me continue on the subject of honor.
Honor is a respect for who someone is. If someone says they are not part of our lives than our respect has to be as being separate from their lives. We must remain willing for whatever the future may hold for relationship as God may bring about a healing and restoration of connection, but that willingness of restoration begins with a willingness to accept that we are now separate. We must honor the decisions of others towards us in life. Our love must remain intact in the midst of separations, but respect for separations must include an open attitude of reconnection.
A culture of honor is a culture of truth, love, nobility, and recognition of others for who they are. Truth is based upon who and what God says we are, not upon our own perceptions that are often based upon our own deceptions. Love always begins with an attitude and judgment of mercy towards others, but also invites others to continue in a relationship of grace. Grace can only be given to someone who chooses to walk with us with a desire to see a testimony of life for what the future holds. It is freely offered to everyone, but only experienced by those who search for it and find it. Grace must be available for all who seek it, but grace must be found. It is the testimony of relationship. Mercy is a welcome to grace and grace is the testimony of covenant and transformational change. Grace empowers us to be a culture of nobility. A culture of nobility is one that seeks to live for the sake of the kingdom. A community of God is an expression of the kingdom of God; therefore true honor is for God’s will and not for the will of individual members of the community. We honor others for their decisions, but it is deceptive to think that honor for them is a blind acceptance of their decisions to embrace something that is not God’s will or way in life. We can respect them for their decisions, but if someone chooses to live in an uncovenanted way, we must treat them as un-covenanted people. Like Jesus, we must treat them as sinners and tax collectors. We don’t hate them nor do we condemn them. We invite them to follow us in the way of God, but we don’t follow them in the ways of sin. We don’t condemn them for their sin; neither do we condone their sin as though embracing a way of life that has not been authorized by God is honorable. We love by accepting them, but we do not condone any lifestyle of actions that opposes the character, nature, way, power, or authority of God. It is by this that we demonstrate honor for God and for the truth of who and what God says we each are.
What is honor? Honor is recognizing the value of someone else and then giving him or her something of us; our attitude, and our action as a testimony of recognizing who he or she are. When we give honor to someone we give something of ourselves to approve and distinguish the value of who they are. Within a healthy sphere of life there is a healthy measure of honor between joining members of that sphere. A culture of honor embodies an atmosphere and a reality that always thinks life. Life honors life! Honor creates, promotes, inspires and protects life. Honorable life does not produce the fruit of death.
Even when we have problems we must always think of how we can bring life to the situation. If I was in a snowstorm and I was stranded in the mountains for many days it is very likely that I would freeze my fingers and my toes and I would have trouble in my body. I would need to recognize that I have trouble in my body and it is a danger to my very life. In that situation some difficult decisions would have to be made that would recognize the value of who I am as a person. Those decisions would involve pain and sacrifice. Sometimes honor includes difficult situations and decisions. If I want to live I would have to remove what is dead in my body. If I don’t cut away what is dead the rest of me will be dead.
We tend to think in humanistic ways. Sometimes we confuse wisdom with abuse by believing that wisdom from God will never involve pain or decisions that cause pain in the body. We often think that honor involves being kind to one another, but in the case of having frozen fingers or frozen toes, the kind thing to do is to take some drastic measures of amputation in order to preserve the life of my body. If I want to live I have to remove what is dead or the rest of me is going to be dead. Honor sometimes includes hard decisions.
In John chapter 15, Jesus compared our relationship with Him with that of being branches on a vine.
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:5-6 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
In this story there are branches that are dead that are removed and there are branches that are fruitful that are cut back. The process of cutting can be viewed as painful to the vine and very misunderstood by someone who loves the vine more than they do the vinedresser. The vinedresser is God our Father and He knows the value of who we are. His act of pruning is an action of honor to who we are as part of the vine. The vinedresser does this so the vine will produce much fruit. He cuts things off that are dead and He even prunes living branches in order to shape them in a way that will produce fruit and carry the weight of fruit without breaking branches. No branch is allowed to simply grow for the glory of itself. If we have feelings for the branches of the vine beyond the feelings of the Creator, or less than the feelings of the Creator, we will fall short of honor by resisting what the Creator sees to do. We might think we are being kind when we don’t want to harm anything, but we are being less than the Creator in our thinking. In our own lives God honors us by removing things that are not beneficial to the fullness of life. He shapes our attitudes and our desires so that we will bear more fruit. A family’s attitude must be shaped and the attributes and characteristics of a family must be shaped in order to fulfill the purpose and destiny of the family. That process is honorable.
Ted J. Hanson