One unique attribute of the Kingdom of God that contrasts most systems and organizations of the world is that of equitable honor.  To honor someone is to regard or treat them with respect, admiration, and esteem.  We typically give honor to people because they have earned and deserve it because they have done something good for us or because of their title or position.

However, I have yet to find any conditions within the scriptures that should limit our honor.  For example, we are commanded to honor our father and mother.  That’s it.  We aren’t let off the hook for doing our part in honoring them if they act in dishonorable or unrespectable ways.  We are simply called to honor and to do so unconditionally.

Romans 13 admonishes us to honor our governing authorities.  There are no conditions are placed on it.  We are simply to honor them. 

We are also called to honor one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10). 

I like this quote from Bill Johnson, “A culture of honor is celebrating who a person is without stumbling over who they’re not.”  Now as a disclaimer, this doesn’t mean that we embrace people’s sin because that’s not who they are.  There is something powerful and transforming that happens when we begin to celebrate others for who they are instead of griping about who they are not.

With the Holy Spirit in common and unifying us, we each uniquely join together to become the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Each part is important and necessary and is joined to the body for a purpose.  Each part is honored and honors the others.  Each part is equally concerned for the others.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

All are honored.  Some are given greater honor that naturally lack it and some are naturally honored and require less so that all are equitably honored.  In this way, each part has equal concern for one another and acknowledges that each part is indispensable and needed by the others.

Some of the more public parts of the body of Christ such as evangelists, apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers naturally receive honor for the functions that they perform. 

However, those parts who function behind-the-scenes are just as important and necessary parts of the body.  Gifts of administration and service and spiritual discernment and generosity and encouragement and mercy are just as needed in the body of Christ, but do not usually receive the same publicity and acknowledgement as speaking gifts.

People will spend hundreds to get their nails or eyelashes or hair looking great.  However, they really don’t value their kidneys or lungs or ACLs until they don’t function the way that they should.  Working on those parts of the body can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars when they need attention, though!  When lying in ICU dealing with a major cardiac event, most aren’t so concerned about their nails anymore.

Today, it’s a great honor to be honored.  However, we also want to be sure to acknowledge that who we are as a church is the direct result of the work of each and every one of us.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Today, we are thankful not just for those who serve the needs of New Hope and who work to build the local body, but for those who serve the Kingdom of God as a whole.  Those who are doing their part to plow up hardened ground or to plant seed or to weed out lies or to water the good seed that has been planted.

Those people who we invest in who learn about Christ and are invited to become members of God’s Kingdom and ultimately find the local body that Christ is calling them to be a part of.  They may never accept that invitation, they might deny the truth about Christ, they may never step foot into this building, however, you faithfully do your part to reach them with the gospel.

Ultimately, the results are not up to us.  It is simply up to us to do our part and give God something to work with to grow as serve as co-laborers with Him.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NCV)

5 Is Apollos important? No! Is Paul important? No! We are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do. 6 I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow. 7 So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work. 9 We are God’s workers, working together; you are like God’s farm.

We each fulfill our part and our purpose in the body of Christ.  We scatter the seed of the good news about God and His salvation.  The growth and the harvest is then up to God, Himself.

Mark 4:26-29

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Whether it’s preaching and evangelizing to a stadium full of people or whether it is serving the needs of your next door neighbor or working hard to meet the needs of your family or simply raising kids to know and love God, you are a critical part of the body of Christ and are making and eternal impact on those around you!

Today, we acknowledge and honor you!