Sunday, January 24, 2010

The 7 Points of Valor - Honor

Philippians 4:4-13 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Exodus 20:12 “honour your father and mother…” Respect for position, place of trust
John 19:9 Honor is inherent to each of us for we are made in the image of Christ- we can give it up!
Matthew 13:57 Honorable jobs - prophet
Romans 9:21 Compares something made for honorable use rather than just common use - think of the items found in the Old Testament temple made of gold.

Honor: The man of honour is the man whose word is true. Psalm 15:1, 2 “O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”  The challenge is to not just know the right stuff, but to apply it. Integrity of words and life are the foundation of our testimony, our witness. If people around us are to see Jesus in us, our word must be true. This is honor.

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The narrator had a choice. We need to find our own way, and often the common road or easy road is a cop-out. If this metaphor speaks to destination I would have chosen a different metaphor myself, because I like driving down easy roads. I just want to get to where I am going. Give me the 4 lane highway rather than the slower 2 lane country road, especially the gravel ones. I avoid roads that are difficult to travel on, yet we often miss interesting things that are only on the back roads. On the other hand, when this metaphor speaks to the journey it is better understood. The road to honor is less traveled and rough. Who wants to go down the hard road? But the destination is not the same. Integrity takes time and sacrifice. It is going to cost you in many different ways. The road to common compromise is wide and easy, and most people follow the crowd.

Honor is the higher calling. For the 15 year old hockey player it is the call of Junior A and the NHL - to reach that dream career of professional hockey. For the author it might be writing that bestselling novel, or the literary work that will stand the test of time. It takes effort and discipline, time, and more. I was talking to one father this past week whose 15 year old son has a shot at the big leagues. He gets invited to the next level up, most of the others being 16 and 17 year olds. One of the boys takes the initiative and says to the group, what’s your name, your age and something about yourself. Half the boys say they like to party. Drinking and smoking dope is common place for these guys. But this young man wants to move on. He keeps his body clean and works hard at his game instead. He knows that to have that one in a million chance he has to pay the price, take the road less traveled. He also declared in front of his peers that he is a Christian. I look forward to seeing how God will use that young guy.

So it is with you and I as followers of Jesus. We aspire to be men and women of God - to be all we can be, to reach our potential for which we were created. Are we willing to pay the price? Honor is about respect, respect because of integrity, and when we are called to be honorable, or set apart from the common we are pursuing a sense of the divine calling. It has been suggested that honor is being true to your word. He is an honorable man because he says something and does it. For the child of God, for the man of God, we make a public confession to following Jesus Christ. We get baptized because we want people to know that this is where we make our stand. This faith is who I am. So often the complaint of the non Christian is that what that Christian says in church isn’t translated into what they see in his life. He is no different from the next guy. How many people have been hurt by someone else in the church? This disconnect between the image of our faith and reality of our life is what honor speaks to. So what does Honor look like? There are 3 arenas of life where we live. There is the private place of our thoughts and attitudes, of our opinions and intellect. The second is our speech, the words that proceed out of our mouth. The third arena we live out our life in is our actions - the places we go, the things we put our hands to. What would honor look like in each of these arenas?

Honorable thoughts
Philippians 4:8 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” How organized are you? If you look at my bookshelves I like to organize books by height. It makes it easier to put loose papers on top of the books, but that is another story. I also like to put like things side by side. I have all my woodworking magazines in one spot, genealogy books in another, and so on. It helps to group like things together. Look at this list in Philippians and see what honorable thoughts are grouped with: Truth, right things, purity, lovely things, and integrity - anything worthy of praise or anything of excellence. That is pretty good company! We tend to speak and act out of who we are. Where we spend time with our head and mind is going to reflect in our words and actions. It is also in the mind that we form our opinions and allow the filters of life to develop.
As we go through life many things cross our path. King David was looking out of his palace and saw a beautiful woman. He allowed that to draw him away. Joseph, on the other hand, ran as fast as he could in the other direction when confronted with the same thing. We have a choice on what we will focus on. Where are your boundaries? I try set mine well in from the danger zones, while others foolishly see how close they can get to the fire. They end up getting burned. I recognize my humanness, my fallen-ness. Victory as a child of God is not running around crazy in our liberty in Christ, but recognizing that we live within grace.
So what will you let your mind dwell on? Be proactive. Grab some good books, listen to uplifting music, and let the Word of God seep into you through reading and memorizing and meditating on it. Many men can tell you the stats of their favorite hockey team, or who has signed or not signed back with the rough riders. But who can quote 1 Corinthians 10:13, Psalm 119:11 or Matthew 22:37?

Honorable Words
Proverbs 25:11 “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” There are some things I wish I was, but I “ain’t”. I wish I was quicker with my wit. I am one of those guys that an opportunity presents itself, there’s a pause, then it is gone and THEN I come up with the funny or the tidbit of wisdom. Maybe that’s why I like preaching - I can have it all thought out beforehand. There have also been times when I was as surprised as the next guy by what came out of my mouth. We all know, though, when we are the recipients of that word in the right circumstance. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Sometimes it is as simple as, “I will pray for you.” Just make sure you do pray. Maybe a simple “I missed you!”
Our words can be used for great good or great harm. When we thoughtfully respond to somebody out of the honesty of our heart, we can’t do it wrong. Someone asks us about Jesus. We try to think about what is important, but we get flustered and feel like we failed. As long as we just respond out of what God has done for us He will use us. God looks at the heart, so don’t not say anything just because you feel inadequate. Just be real and let God do the rest. He promised He would if our words come out of who we are in him.

Honorable Acts
Have you ever met someone who said one thing but did another? This is where that metaphor of the two roads come in. A lot of people talk about that road less travelled. They have the right words and know the right people and read the right books, but when the rubber hits the road, they are not at all where they thought or said they were. Honor is about integrity, and we have precious little people of integrity. Another fallen pastor after 30 years of marriage. Another person leaving a church because someone abused them spiritually, or just because they got upset about a paint color. A guy pursuing the pastorate as well as a promiscuous  lifestyle. A church elder abusing his daughters. There is a lot of talk from a lot of people, but when you take away all the layers you see truth in how you treat and relate to others. Men - how do you treat women? Are you honorable in how you relate, or do you take advantage of them at vulnerable times. If we don’t have honor among the men of our church, where else will we find it? Honor is not passive, it is active. What are you doing to lift our sisters in Christ up?
Justice and ministry to the single ladies and orphans top lists in the Old and New Testaments. How are we doing today with integrity, with acting honorably? Does our life live up to our words?

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