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Relationship Reset part 2 - Honour and Blessing

WHAT ABOUT HONOUR?


Honouring people who are honourable is easy. Loving those who love you is a no-brainer. Anyone can do that. But being honourable towards people who don’t show us honour is where the bible differs from culture. (Luke 6:32)


Luke 6:35-37 (NASB)

But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 


This set the tone for part two of our Relationship Reset series at The THRESHING FLOOR.


The vision of The THRESHING FLOOR was apparent - Shake off what is not useful, so that what remains is unshakable - producing a full, rich and valuable conversation. (Conversation and photographs are held in confidence and will not be shared publicly.)


The articles for these sessions are comprehensive, so if you weren't able to enjoy being with us you can benefit from these topic notes in full. Click here to read the full notes of Relationship Reset, part one.


This topic of honour and blessing is a hefty subject to wield because honour touches every relationship and situation we have. I have thrashed my way through this topic for years because it's so hard to receive. That's why I see arriving at a functioning understanding of it as important but further, it's crucial to accept so that it shapes our heart. In order to do that, we must work our way through the what-if questions and come to the other end with a clear understanding of what’s expected of us as Christ-followers.


Grab your beverage of choice, get comfy, and let’s dig in.


Starting From The Right Position

Figuring out what to do in situations that are wrong, unfair and harmful, is hard. Resolving to do so in a God-honouring way can be, truthfully, even harder.


Why do it then, you might ask?


The bible - the Word of God - assures us it will lead to greater healing, restoration and blessing. I don’t want a quick fix; I don’t even want an answer that’s only good for me. I want a long-term cure and the knowledge that peace has truly been achieved with all that’s taken place in and around me. Then reconciliation, on some level, will follow and restoration can take place in my life.


Proverbs 3:4-8 (TLB)

If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, then you will be given renewed health and vitality.


God’s rewards are conditional. Preferring to do things our own way is conceit. This isn’t easy to swallow, but hang in there. If you do, your health and vitality will be renewed, it says. That's good news, right?


When we have to do something God’s way rather than our own way, it takes an intentional surrendering of our will. Humility is at the core. Our sense of self and purpose has to be grounded in His Spirit and His Word. When we follow after soul desires God’s intended outcome can never be accomplished. We block Him. Frankly, we're too short-sighted and self-driven to accept He has a better way.


Being honourable towards someone who has been dishonourable to us does not mean honouring what they’ve done. But it carries a heart of forgiveness, grace and humility. We have to understand, firstly, that where they're coming from is a bent or broken place.

Honouring or being honourable is therefore, not contingent on another person’s action to me. It is my own choice of behaviour and attitude toward another person, despite what they may or may not have done, and it does not require reciprocation.


1 Peter 2:17 (NET)

Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.


How do we show proper respect to everyone?

(NIV) Verse 1: rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Slander of every kind means not to speak about others wrongfully.

Is it critical? Don’t say it. Does it condemn? Don’t say it. Is it untruthful? Don’t say it. Is it a nasty opinion, or a gripe? Don’t say it.

(NIV) Verse 15: it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.

If someone speaks against you unjustifiably and if you’re behaving well, it's God's will that your goodness will silence their meanness. That may take some self-sacrifice but it's a beneficial outcome.


Philippians 2:1-11 talks about Christ’s humility; He did not have selfish ambition; He sought the Father’s will on all occasions. The Father exalted Him and gave Him authority over all because of His obedience.


In our desire to be Christ-like, we also choose to seek the Father's will. The Father will also vindicate us in due season.


1 Peter 5:6

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.


Why would it say to humble ourselves so that we can then be honoured? Perhaps, because a) it's not us honouring ourselves but God, and b) value is shown in honour. We want to be valued. Knowing that if we humble ourselves the Lord will remember us and lift us up (some translations say, exalt), is soothing to the value we need to feel. One Greek translation I found for the word exalt, is to beautify. I love that.


As a side note from the Oxford Reference, the Hebrew word Kavod is "a term with social, moral, and theological implications derived from the Hebrew root for weight, meaning honor, respect, reverence, importance, distinction, or glory. A person gives kavod (honor) to ..."

Honour can be weighty; it realises the importance of someone. With God, when we honour Him we glorify Him. It's remarkable to think that God wants to honour us, also. When we honour someone who is dishonourable to us, it does carry a weight but it's a weight God promises to bring beauty out of for us. If that's not amazing....


Philippians 2:1-3

If you have… common sharing in the Spirit… do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.


Sharing in the Spirit, means we should have an internal hazard light that activates when we are not being attentive to His ways, but rather our own. Sharing in the Spirit means that we can see beyond ourselves to how the Spirit sees other people, and we effect His manner towards them.


Humanly, we struggle with our sense of self-entitlement. We often oppose God's will – and God also opposes ours. It can feel like our feelings are not being considered by God, but that’s when we should ask ourselves, is this my soul seeking justification?


Our starting point must be honouring Him first and trusting Him.


2 Peter 2:2 (NIV)

Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute


While this verse is specifically referring to false teachers, being a Christian should mean that we are conscious of not being like the rest of the world, not just occasionally, but as a matter of course. Otherwise, we bring God’s name into disrepute.


Proverbs 1:7 (NLV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of much learning. Fools hate wisdom and teaching.


Don’t be a fool.


We’ve seen so far that the bible teaches us to act honourably towards everyone. And we’ve also seen that having a heart of humility, not selfish ambition, is non-negotiable. Even Jesus bent His knee.


Let's look at different relationships, in brief.


Let’s Talk About Parents and Children in the Home


Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV) (see also Exodus 20:12)

“Honor your father and mother so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 


Blessing is conditional on honour given.


Not all parents behave honourably. Honouring someone in that situation may not be able to be demonstrated without forgiveness. Some children (grown or not) are able to forgive wrongs more willingly than others. Our own perceptions, reflections and choices are pivotal in the journey towards forgiveness and restoration. If we’re able to show honour to our parents the bible assures us that things will go well with us.


Honour is a form of value.


1 Timothy 3:4 (NIV)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.


This stipulates children are also to be treated honourably. The parent (stipulated father) is to show respect to such a degree that he will be worthy of full respect in return.


There’s another blessing – respect given, respect received.


Ephesians 6:1,4 (NIV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right…. 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.


Do you see how the bible speaks to the male? The father. The bible indicates that if He is honourable, it will be a contented and calm home.


Honouring mother/father roles as beautiful and necessary in their differences brings a cohesion to the family. Competition is unfruitful and causes damage and unrest.


Where either parent is not in the picture, the other picks up that burden. Sole parenting in the opposite role is a burden because we are not created to walk in each other’s style of shoes. However, when we honour God first, God can give us the wisdom and grace to bear it and will make provision for it.


Let’s Talk About Spousal Equity

Ephesians 5 talks about conduct being pure and honouring, bringing truth, standing up to what is wrong.


Even though it's hard, this can also be demonstrated across broken relationships. The motivation toward a peaceful and productive partnership is the goal. Honour and God's resulting blessing can be seen divinely in these circumstances


Ephesians 5 says not to be partners with the obscene, immoral, deceitful, greedy, or coarse. We are not to be partners with this kind of behaviour in silence. We are instructed to bring truth to the situation in a way that values that person.


Ephesians 5 commands husbands to love their wives as they love themselves and wives to submit to and respect their husbands. This is a mutual partnership, not a one-up-man-ship. It also says to submit to each other out of honour for Christ.


Wives, the call to be submissive does not include tolerating bad behaviour from your husband. I'm saying that because there’s an ugly old belief system out there that is still very much alive and unwell. Let’s get it straight. Honouring is required. Suffering in silence is not required. Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).


Actually, it seems to me that the greater sacrifice is commanded of the husband – to lay down his life as Christ did for the church; to wash his wife as with the washing of water. I recall hearing Dr Tony Evans say a husband is to ‘groom’ his wife; a picture of adoration and intimate care. Not neglect, or abuse, or gruffness, or power and control. Unselfish love. A woman’s response is generally to love and respect her husband wholeheartedly in return of that love.


Biblically, behaviour and the tone in the home begins and rests with the man.


Big shoes.

 

Let’s Talk About Spousal Abuse

Matthew 5:38

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 


Is God saying we allow bullying?


No.


There is debate over Matthew 5:38 and what it meant culturally in Jesus’ day – that it didn’t actually mean then what everyone thinks it means now – that we lie down and passively take abuse with all good grace.


Jesus spoke up all the time against bullying and discrimination. As far as I can see, while Jesus never threw a punch He didn’t back down from attack either. He blocked people.


God always cautions people not to take revenge and to leave that to Him because He will judge and judge fairly (Romans 12:19). Basically, He knows we want recompense for wrongs done to us, but He doesn’t want us to sin in seeking revenge, so He says, leave it to me. I hold everybody to account, justly, not vindictively.


In a bonded relationship, where God has placed clear covenantal requirements on each person in the family dynamic, does God say we allow abuse? (There shouldn’t even be a need to ask, but unfortunately, distortions of scripture require it.) Have you heard the ‘stay and pray’ advice? Don’t listen to it.


The answer is emphatically, no. God does not say we allow abuse. He doesn’t want us to act in the same way but can we stand up to someone in an honourable way? Absolutely! (See Ephesians 5.)


Perhaps we take an example from Jesus and learn how to block well, which, in a way, is apparently the case in Matthew 5:38. It wasn’t an invitation for the abuser to have another go, it was a form of blocking. Passive resistance rather than passivity.


Lastly, if it’s unsafe, leave and take your children with you. If you're the abuser - leave and seek help. It’s just common sense and clearly there is dishonour being evidenced. Seek God for His help and as far as it depends on you, behave as honourably as you can. Work towards reconciliation wherever possible (where there is repentance and genuine work towards change and transformation).

 

God's Protocol

How do we maintain safe and respectful boundaries?


Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.


What we think over, affects our hearts. What we believe, affects our hearts. How we allow other people to treat us, affects our hearts. What comes out of our mouth, comes from the heart.


Matthew 15:18

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 


What we think, how we intend to behave and speak starts and ends with our heart and the decision whether or not to honour God first.


God wants us to follow His protocol.


When a person dishonours me, firstly, I need to cultivate an intention towards them of mercy, justice, humility and peace, with the understanding that it is okay and even expected, to speak up for truth and what is right and block every attempt of abuse.

 

Honour God First

Micah 6:8 (AMP)

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?


God is Just

Isaiah 51 demonstrates God’s attitude towards our opposers and wants us to let Him fight for us.


Isaiah 51:22-23

This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends his people: “See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again. I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’ And you made your back like the ground, like a street to be walked on.”


This is clear, God’s righteousness also means that there is a place for His just wrath against tormentors who are full of pride and hatred and maliciousness – all of which He hates – because they refuse to repent.


It is clear He does not want you or me to make our back a plank to be walked over.


While God is jealous for His own, He still loves the lost – which includes our aggressors and betrayers.


I have seen God simply block people’s attempt to disempower, control or harm me. This is God’s grace. Blocking enables the quashing of a situation that could otherwise escalate, without demonstrating offense, and therefore, seems the most protective stance to everybody involved.


Everyone will have to give an account – but He gives a wide berth of grace which means we’re called to long-suffering and humility. These are essential characteristics of grace and honour.


Romans 12:18-21

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


Here's the picture of honour:
Guard your heart, block evil, while doing good back.

God doesn’t expect us to stay in abusive relationships.


Honouring the dishonourable doesn’t mean having no boundaries and being walked over.


Honouring doesn’t mean ignoring bad behaviour – we are to be truthful and (gently) expose what’s wrong – but our boundaries include the framework of goodness, not malice or resentment.


While we may need to remove ourselves from abusive situations, we are called not to become retaliatory. We are called to forgive.


God is able to bring transformation and we need to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead through life, not our emotions.


WHAT ABOUT BLESSING?


While others’ bad behaviour may be out of order we can learn not to be swayed or dismayed by it.


It’s important to learn how to appropriate gentle kindness, compassion, and non-judgmental attitudes, even while we seek to judge a situation with wisdom and understanding.


It’s our heart that matters. Our heart should ultimately want to bless our Father in our conduct.


If we dishonour, deceive, move against people out of selfish ambition, this doesn’t bless God's heart and He cannot bless what He does not sanction.


God blesses obedience, and He blesses His Word.


So, it seems God’s way of dealing with those who dishonour us is to do good to them – heaping burning coals on their head means that our good behaviour would convict them and leave God to deal with the person justly so that we don’t get drawn into a sinful response.


We are part of God’s Kingdom. He can’t bless the citizens of His Kingdom if they disregard what He’s said. It blesses His heart to see us conduct ourselves with mercy and honour.

 

Vessels Fit For Purpose

2 Timothy 2:21-26 (NIV)

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses….

 

This passage calls us to cleanse ourselves from all that is dishonourable and become a vessel for honourable use.


The topic we’ve been discussing can be summarised in that scripture.


Demonstrating honour in dishonourable circumstances is not easy. But peace does come and reward will follow.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (NLT) - BLESSINGS

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God: Your towns and your fields will be blessed. Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. “The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you. 11 “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship them.


The rest of chapter 28 covers cursing – binding consequences – that follow those who don't pay attention to the command to honour the Lord. It finishes by saying if you don’t obey, you’ll go back to what enslaved you before.


In warning us of this, God is illustrating that He wants good for us. Don’t forget that.


He wants to bless you.




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