Recently I was visiting a church worship service and watched in awe as the worship leader struggled to get people to stand on their feet and give God some praise. While the band played and the singers sang, it’s as if the majority of the audience was not even acknowledging her requests to thank and praise God for something in their life today.
As I stood there raising my hands responding to her request and giving the Lord praise, I couldn’t help but notice a young man walk in and sat in front of me very stoic as if he was mad at the world, and not participating in the command to stand and praise the Lord. Soon the worship leader was exhausted and couldn’t think of anything else to motivate the crowd and just sat down. I watched the utter defeat on her face as she was refreshing herself with a glass of water while the music was playing softly.
Suddenly as if an alarm went off, everyone rose to their feet silently, as if in a hypnotic trance, except for me, but especially the young man who wouldn’t rise to praise the Lord during the worship service. As I turned and glanced through the standing crowd, I saw the object of their attention. It wasn’t Jesus; it wasn’t an angel; it was a man. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just any man, he was the anointed vessel to minister for the evening. As I noticed him mount the steps to the platform and kneel and pray and then take his seat, I couldn’t help but notice the robotic like cheers that came from the crowd.
I thought to myself, “is this the same crowd that couldn’t be motivated a few minutes ago to thank the Lord?” Yet was cheering as if their favorite team had won the Super Bowl. Something is really out of sync in our churches today, if we can stand to attention to honor our leaders but can’t take time to worship and praise God for who He is in our lives.
Don’t misinterpret me. I have no problem with honor, in its proper context. But when honor and respect for our leaders gets more attention than praise to God, we have a problem. I realize one grants honor to someone regularly, on the basis of position, status, or wealth. Truthfully, I have had my share of being respected and praised for my position and accomplishments, but it can and should also be granted on the basis of character. Honor without such action is incomplete and is merely lip service.
While honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience to the one honored in the correct context. The Lord, for example, is honored when we as Christians, do things that please Him. Parents are honored through the obedience of their children and the military grants honor on the basis of rank.
Ultimately though, the source of all honor is to God on the basis of His position as sovereign Creator and of His character as a loving Father. God the Father has conferred honor on His Son, Jesus Christ. He has bestowed honor on humanity by creating man a little lower than the angelic beings. The Lord has also created spheres of authority within human government, the church, and the home. The positions of authority in those spheres are to receive honor implicitly.
The granting of honor to others is an essential experience in the believer’s life. Christians are to bestow honor on those for whom honor is due. But at no time are we to worship the creature over the Creator. Worship is really an endearment to; a feeling of profound love and attention to someone or something because they have blessed you. Honor is respect and worship is adoration and reverence to someone holier and exalted more than yourself. Let’s not confuse our sense of pride with our need to love.
The believer is to honor God above all else, for He is the sovereign head of the universe and His character is unsurpassed. The believer is to honor those in positions of earthly authority, such as governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7 ), masters (1 Timothy 6:1 ), and parents (Exodus 20:12 ). As a participant in the church, the believer is also called to honor Jesus Christ, the head of the church (John 5:23 ), and fellow believers (Romans 12:10 ), and also widows (1 Timothy 5:3 ).
However, while the reception of honor is a positive experience, it is not to be sought or expected by those whom the attention is given. When honor comes from others by reason of position or status, it is not to be taken for granted. It is out of respect and is earned through life achievements and image. But the recipients of this special attention should seek to merit honor through godly character. Honor can be lost through a disobedient life or reckless conduct, and in exceptional cases, it can also be stolen through jealousy and envy.
We should seek to honor and worship The Lord as our Christian duty and respect the vessels The Lord has chosen with honor. Remember, let’s not lose focus on who and how much we give this special attention to. Balance is the key term here. However, it is not equal balance we give to God and our leaders, it is positional balance that must be sought. The Lord is supreme; above all others and above all praise that we can utter. He is and always will be in the first position and refuses to share His Glory with another.
It is really up to the recipient to redirect honor and praise in its proper context or else we can become intoxicated with the disease of self-glory like satan. People can only worship what they see, so it up to leaders to redirect people to worship in their spirit what they can perceive. If not, they will conceive images of greatness and not visions of God in His Holy temple.
I was at another worship service where the pastor was introduced with great fanfare. The audience stood, applauded and cheered as he came up, but he cautioned, “If you can praise a man like that, you ought to give God your highest praise.”