Importance of honoring one another:
One lesson of leadership that I’ve had to learn through the years is the importance and value of honoring people. This lesson has come through very hard knocks. I’m a naturally critical person because I’m a proud man. I wrestle with seeing the worst or believing the worst about situations and, sometimes, people. But several years ago, after years of anxiety and fear of man, the Lord convicted me deeply of this. The reality of the Holy Spirit’s work in others’ lives and the fact that everyone is made in the image of God (although sin taints it often) created in me a fresh awareness of why honoring others was so important. I read a wonderful book that I’d recommend called, Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree (free Ebook in the link). That really helped me see how affirmation and honoring can be an inroads into the lives of others and helps advance the gospel. I used to say that I had the spiritual gift of ‘discouragement,’ but now, as I’m growing in this, I’d like to say that I’m becoming more aware of God’s work in others’ lives. Now, I’d like to do a better job of speaking to that the moment I see it. Many times, I need to process what I saw and then speak. I’m trying to take Romans 12:10 to heart a bit more. What I’ve found has been deeper friendships, better gospel moments, and more ‘life-giving’ experiences with others.
Now, here’s I’ve found two things:
- It’s an art to give honor correctly without flattery. Honor is about recognizing the work that God is doing in a person’s life and honoring them for obeying God or doing something well. So, I try to keep it short but clear. I’ll say things like, “I just want you to know that I thank God for you. Your hard work, passion for your job is evidence that God is at work in you. It’s so cool to see that.”
- The other thing I’ve found is that people don’t know how to respond. Most Christians try to spiritualize it. I heard this from another pastor, but it helps display the point. He said that a lady in their church sang a song, and she did a great job. After the service, another lady came up and told her, “thank you for singing today and sharing your gift with us. You did a great job.” To which the singer replied, “well, it was the Lord,” in an attempt to give God glory and make sure she deflected the praise. At that point, the encourager replied, “well, actually, the Lord would’ve done much better, but you were pretty good.” LOL!! So, when you’re honored or encouraged, here’s a great way to receive…say, ‘thank you, that means a lot and the quietly, by yourself, thank God for that encouragement. Don’t make it bigger, weirder, or more awkward than it needs to be.
One last thing on this…several years ago, a close friend told me that he would not encourage me because he knew that I was a proud man and didn’t want to puff up my pride. Instead he felt like it was his mission to point out my many faults. As you can imagine, we didn’t stay close for very long:). But I think this guy misses the point of Romans 12:10 and of 1 Corinthians 12. The last person to see God working in us and through us…is us. Typically, we’re filled with self-doubt, self-criticism, and wondering if our lives are really making an impact. So here’s my response: if you see God at work in someone, tell them. It’s not your job to hold pride back in someone’s life or to be the arrogance police. Further, encouragement and honor, is a humbling thing to receive. What’s fascinating is that the Lord has used encouragement from others as a spiritual scalpel in my life far more than criticism from others. And I’ve found the same to be true as I’ve tried to serve and lead others.
The Spirit’s presence with us:
Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that we’ve all been baptized into one body by the Spirit. The clear point is that since the Spirit of God resides inside each of us, the Spirit will be a unifying presence in our church. That’s true.
However, a deeper grasp of this is important, and I didn’t have time to develop this point in the sermon, so I’ll do it here briefly. In short…the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is several things like forgiveness of sin, being right with God, and being a child of God. But, according to the Bible, one thing sets us apart: God’s presence is with us and in us.
In Exodus 33, the Lord is angry with His people. They are stubborn, rebellious, and idolatrous. He commands Moses to have the people leave the area that they’re in, but He (God) would not go with them. He was done. But Moses interceded for the people and notice what he prayed in vs. 13-16: “Now, therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Emphasis mine) What makes us distinct from all other people on the face of the earth is that God’s presence is with us.
The impact of this on our unity and our willingness to work through hard things with other Christians is powerful. Because the Spirit is at work in them, I can expect God to work in them. Because the Spirit’s reconciling work is alive in them, I can expect the Spirit’s will is for us to be reconciled. Further, we can expect the Spirit to do a myriad of things in our spiritual family, and many of them will be things we never see or know. So, our job is not to overanalyze a situation or be self-righteously critical. Our job is to obey God’s word and the Spirit’s promptings (in that order) and trust God to work in His people.
You’ve probably noticed through this series that I have not given a list or a detail of the spiritual gifts that Paul mentions. This is by design. Mainly, it’s because I don’t think that Paul wanted the Corinthians to be caught up in what each spiritual gift was and who had what gift. I think that’s why he gave the rhetorical questions he gave in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30. But that doesn’t mean that spiritual gifts should be left undefined.
In the coming weeks, I will speak on the gifts discussed in 1 Corinthians 14, and I’ll give more detail about some of the other gifts. For now, I want us to bask in the glory of how God designed His church and that God is the Sovereign One over it all.
From the Cheap Seats:
- In the last two months, the Dallas Cowboys have either signed or drafted 12 new defensive players. I think that’s the right thing to do, to put it mildly.
- For those wanting a UVC baseball update…big games this week with Glide that will more than likely determine the #1 seed to the state tournament. Our guys are improving but we need to keep improving. We’re 6-1.
- Huge Champions League match tomorrow with Man City and PSG. Thankful that City has all their players available, and many are fully rested. After watching last week’s match, I concur Neymar is not a very nice guy.
I hope you have a great week and that you are expecting to see God at work.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.