We said in the beginning of this series that genuine honor can only come from God. We also talked about the path to honor, which is honoring others before ourselves – God first, and then other people.
Humility is another prerequisite for receiving honor: “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33). But, as we said last time, humility is not putting ourselves down. Humility is lining ourselves up with what God says and depending on Him to care for us, fulfill our destiny in His timing, and bring whatever vindication, recognition, and approbation are needed, as He sees fit. Humility is a place of rest in Him.
The devil’s lie to mankind has always been that God is trying to keep us from having good things, including honor. The story of Balaam and Balak in Numbers 22-24 is a prime example. King Balak tried to flatter Balaam, a prophet who was also involved in sorcery, into cursing Israel for him. The rewards dangled in front of Balaam were money, recognition, and power.
Balaam blessed Israel, rather than cursing them, although not out of a pure heart of obedience toward God. And Balak responded with anger: “Therefore now flee to your place: I thought to promote you to great honor; but, look, the LORD has held you back from honor” (Numbers 24:11). Nothing could have been further from the truth. Had Balaam yielded himself in pure devotion to the Lord, God would have seen to his honor. But Balaam believed what the king was accusing God of – because it was what he was already convinced of in his deceived heart. The result? Balaam devised a plan to destroy Israel, whom he knew were the beloved of God, and he was killed in battle while siding with Israel’s enemies (Numbers 31:16; Numbers 31:8).
We are all apt to make the same mistake that Balaam made – attempting to seize honor for ourselves by manipulation or by receiving the flatteries of men. And the root of conniving to get honor for ourselves is believing that God does not want to give us good things. Sometimes the opportunities that arise for temporary or premature honor are pretty tempting. But if we care most of all about what God thinks of us and if we understand that He truly loves to honor His own, we will keep out of the trap.
How can you believe, who receive honor from each other, and do not seek the honor that comes only from God? — John 5:44
If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. The man who serves me is the man whom my Father will honor. — John 12:26
By understanding the destiny purpose that God has for us, as well as who we are in Christ Jesus, we can function confidently in the position He has given us. Sure, this requires stepping into that place little by little, as God releases us into it. Coming into our destiny takes a great deal of patience and dependence on the Lord. We have to let Him lead in the timing, or we are likely to make a mess by stepping ahead of Him. (Moving ahead of God is often where we get into striving for honor.)
In conclusion, seek the honor of God above all else. If you strive for the honor of men, it will always elude you. But as you rest in the honor of God, the honor of men will overtake you without you ever knowing how.