THE ABUSE OF HONOR

This piece may get me in trouble with those in the world of Christendom who crave honor. But if you imitate the Master you will love and appreciate the following Scripture very much. 

“I receive not glory from men [I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame]…” (John 5:41 — AMPC).

I believe in honor. The Scriptures have much to say about it. I believe in giving honor to whom honor is due (Rom. 13:7). I believe in honoring worthy leaders, especially those of high character who labor in the Word and prayer. In fact, double honor is encouraged for them (1 Tim. 5:17). 

In one form or another, however, all my Christian life I’ve heard plenty of messages on the necessity of honoring leaders. What I don’t remember ever hearing is on the abuse of honor and the inequality of it. Please allow me to explain. 

Case in point, who gets the best parking space at church? Who gets the best seats in the sanctuary? Who has the finest office? Who gets special days of appreciation in their honor? Who gets the most attention on their birthday and anniversary? Who gets access into the VIP lounge after special services?

Is it the dear single godly mother who is busy working two jobs to support her two children? Is it the humble couple who are caring for their invalid father or mother-in-law? Is it the church handy man who services the poor and needy at no charge? Is it the saintly widow who regularly visits the nursing home and cares for the forgotten of society? Is it the local working soul winning evangelist who is not on church staff payroll, but puts in more hours per week ministering to the poor and homeless than they do sitting in their plush offices? Sadly, in most cases, it is not.

Why this seemingly inequality? Why this lack of balance? Do esteemed leaders have need of more honor and esteem? I think not. Read these verses carefully:

“And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:23-25).

When honor does not also flow to those parts that have need of honor we are standing on unscriptural and ungodly ground. Again, I take no issue with honoring leaders. The problem is in many circles the gross overemphasis and spotlight is usually on them, and hardly ever on those who most need it. And it is the constant glaring example of the former is always before us. 

How did we become so uneven? 

Let me share what I believe has greatly contributed to this imbalance. Be warned; this will irritate our glow-in-the-dark celebrity ministry icons.

COULD THE MODERN APOSTOLIC AND PROPHETIC MOVEMENT BE THE CULPRIT? 

I believe the modern apostolic and prophetic “movement” has to take much of the blame for this. The flagrant overemphasis on apostolic “alignment”, prophetic “counsel”, pastoral “covering”, and spiritual “fathering” and “sonship”, although it contains a truth, is excessive and extremely overstated — at least in the world of Charismatic-dom.

I neither have time nor space to delve into the intricacies of this convoluted doctrine that borders on the heretical, but I’ll offer some admonition. 

Jesus warned us, actually forbid us, from the use of inflated titles, false prestige, and inordinate reliance placed upon men acting as mediators and brokers for the favor and blessings of God in the lives of ordinary believers and up and coming young leaders. 

“But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ” (Matt. 23:8-10).

The modern apostolic, prophetic, and even pastoral policies of honor are in many cases quite dishonorable and some are downright abusive. Apart from the rebellion and dishonor found in some members of the body of Christ, it is also littered with hurt and disillusioned believers who have been abused by church leaders and authority figures. 

Take the theme of spiritual “fathering”. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “son in the house”? It’s a term to describe the supposed loyalty of a believer to align himself in submission and service to his “spiritual covering,” whether it be the “apostle of the house” or the ambitious pastor pushing for the same. Most of the time it’s not a spiritual “covering” but a spiritual “smothering”.  

This teaching is usually presented as a spiritual concern for the success of  upcoming young leaders, but it’s often veiled by the real issue at hand — the need for preeminence among ignorant and insecure “spiritual fathers” and the protection from the hurt and betrayal of unfaithful sons or so called “Absaloms” or a “Judas”. The fact is, Jesus had a Judas, and so will every spiritual leader at some point in his life and ministry. 

Apostles and pastors/leaders who set up authority structures and father-son ministry paradigms to insulate themselves from the betrayal or personal hurt of an “Absalom” or a “Judas” are actually working against the principle of death and resurrection that will greatly aid in transforming them into the image of Christ. Stop trying to save your life and save your ministry. 

TRUE SPIRITUAL COVERING

This is what true spiritual covering is. 

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13”17).

The word “obey” those who have rule over you, implies obedience learned and earned through trust. 

Again, please hear my heart. I am 100% for the principle of honor and honoring true leaders, and there may be a lack of honor for leaders in certain places where teaching is needed, but I believe the lack is on the other end. The less honorable and less presentable parts need more honor, so “that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.”

Why are we addressing the abuse of honor and highlighting the apostolic and prophetic ministry? Because if the Church is going to be transformed from an ego-centric, entrepreneurial, consumer-based ministry to a Christ-based community, the example of it must begin with this foundation of authentic apostolic ministry and true fathers of the faith, who though they be less loved will “the more abundantly love others and will very gladly spend and be spent for their souls” (2 Cor. 12:15).

The modern apostolic and prophetic movement needs maturing. When we see maturity there, we will see it everywhere else.  

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THE CALLING OF A CHURCH AND A NATION BACK TO GOD

If ever there was a time when true apostles and prophets must arise in America and the world, it is now — not only to give prophetic words of what the future holds, but with holy conviction, to call a Church and a nation back to the true worship of God, to drive out the money changers, and to call us back to true Spirit-inspired, fervent, effectual prayer and fasting, and holy character. They must also confront the elite vipers of iniquity and warn the false apostles and prophets of their whitewashed walls and false claims to peace, and to cry out to the people to repent and return to God. Both John the Baptist and Jesus did this as well as the writers of the New Testament.

Now is the time to flee the existing superficial version of Christianity and our false, unholy allegiances and return to a lifestyle that reflects the humility and meekness of our Master. It is an hour when true ministers must move away from the rat race of professional ministry, money-making schemes, and the pursuit of fame, popularity, and media exposure, and be made whole in God’s presence and through God’s love.

Only true friends of the bridegroom whose character has been shaped in the crucible of their own sufferings and earned God’s trust are qualified to lead a Church and a nation back to God. They alone shall know the secret and heart of the Lord.

“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant” (Ps. 25:14).

Notice how this verse reads in the Living Bible:

“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.”

Too many modern apostolic and prophetic voices are tainted because they are too eager for power, popularity, influence, riches, and fame. They seek more the validation and affirmation of men at the neglect of truly living and speaking in the sight of God. The road can be lonely and difficult at times, but we endanger ourselves when we seek the validation of man over the validation of our heavenly Father. We must begin to align ourselves with the heart of Christ and see clearly what is within man, and rather than seek approval in the flesh, prefer at all costs the approval of God. This will keep us preferring purity over popularity, intimacy over influence, and holiness over hype.

A heartfelt reliance and preference for the approval of God over the approval of man is what distinguishes all true apostles and prophets from counterfeits and wannabes. The same could be said for all ministers and all saints. For there will come a time when they must not only speak out against the carnal and sinful status quo, but shake off those religious, political, and cultural traditions that run contrary to what God demands and expects of His people. This cannot happen unless they love and fear God more than man. This also cannot happen unless they have an exceedingly great zeal for the honor of God’s house, who we are.

(This is an excerpt from my latest book, Cleansing The Temple)