The gospel has triumphed over centuries despite persecutions and trials, but it seems we are at a stage where if we do not manage the spoil of war that we gained through the sacrifice of the blood of those missionaries, we may lose them at the gate of honouring men. We all acknowledge honouring and respecting men is one of the fruits of righteousness but never at the expense of truth. As much as Paul respected Peter being an Elder in the Apostolic ordinance, he was the one Paul even spent 15 days in his house after leaving the desert of Arabia, but he still had to call him to order when he realizes some gaps in Peter.
Gal. 2: 11-13 11 “Now when 4Peter had come to Antioch, I 5withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing 6those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”
We have a danger in our hands which is breeding a generation that does not see the Bible as a final authority but rather the word of men as the final authority. We do not see the word of Christ as the supreme authority but rather as the counsel and the view of men. The Bible would be useless if all you need in God is in a single man or woman. We bless God for Patriarchs of faith and we appreciate their sacrifices, but they can never replace the Bible for us. They are guided along the way but never a source. The gospel has not been preserved by honouring men but rather by honouring truth.
Over centuries God has continued to raise men who are committed to truth above the word of men, they are not heretics, but they are more committed to God than man, they look unto Christ for the truth that can sustain generations rather than committing themselves to personal gain by honouring men and shutting their mouth to the truth. Today, instead for our generation to press on in knowing more of the Bible, preach Christ and He crucified, many times we have turned the pulpit into a place of accolades and honour for men, we preach so much about honouring men and several men have hijacked this and taken it to the next level. Honouring others is core to the Christian Faith, respecting ourselves is primary to our calling but when such honour collides with the Bible, we pick the word, not just for ourselves but for God and future generations.
Peter was young and low compared to the Pharisees of His days, but he was determined to be more committed to the truth than to keep quiet and stay under the guise of honouring men and silencing the truth.
Acts. 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men.
Honouring men is an admonition in the scripture but that must be within the boundary of the scripture and the honour must be in a form that must never take the truth from nor ascribe the role of God to man. We must never worship man or takes any human word as the final authority, nor engage in loyalty to men that deprived followers of speaking the truth.
Let us review some of the areas things that lead to this:
- BEWARE WHEN YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE BEING HONOURED: No child of God must be the only one being honoured in any gathering, every child of God being honoured must honour others too. Christianity is not autocracy, we are all one-fold under God and therefore irrespective of your gift or anointing when men honour you, you must honour them in the same manner. If you are the only one being honoured and you see other men as subjects, you have taken that honour to yourself. See the admonition in Romans:
Romans 12: 10 says “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
That means no man is a Boss in the kingdom, we are all one nation under God, we are not to scare ourselves or lord over each other but rather we fellowship in love and brotherliness. We should not make ourselves unreachable or place ourselves in situations where the less privileged, widows etc cannot see us, but rather we are available to the high and mighty. We must never require men to make payment before having an opportunity to see us, if we do not pay to see God why we should pay to see you, all these are honours that are aliens to the kingdom.
God gave dominion to man in Genesis over everything except over other fellow men, he was not given authority to dominate another man. As a leader you must honour your followers just the same way they honour you, that is what reflects the mind of Christ. Jesus taught us this when he washed the disciples’ feet, how many can do that today? Even though Christ admonished us to do it.
John 13: 12 – 15 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
- BEWARE LEST YOU ACCEPT A MAN AS INFALLIBLE: We must never honour any man to the level that we are blind to the Bible or Truth. Every honour we give men must be subjected to the Almighty God. There is a danger to being blinded by the errors of any man we honour, more so to read the scripture through their views alone because we honour them, anytime we get to that point, we have gone beyond the boundary of honour. Any man is fallible only God is infallible. What turns many sects into what they are today is when men do not know when they have exceeded the threshold of honour to men. The Patriarchs were men of honour, they so much honour themselves but in that honour, they chastise themselves with the truth. Any honour you give that cannot be mixed or chastised with truth is not a godly honour.
- WHEN GOD MANIFEST THROUGH A MAN AND HE FAILS TO RETURN THE GLORY: For you that is being honoured, you must never take the honour that belongs to Christ or God. Even Jesus Christ as great as he is was never ready to take the honour that belongs to God and that was why Jesus never ascribed the title of “Father” to himself but God. Matt. 23: 9 “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”. Also, when Peter and John healed the man at the beautiful gate and men began to honour them, they quickly refute it and asked that it be returned to God, they turned the eyes of the people to God.
Acts 3: 12-13 “12 With the crowd surrounding him, Peter said to them all, “People of Israel,[d] listen to me! Why are you so amazed by this healing? Why do you stare at us? We didn’t make this crippled man walk by our power or authority.[e] 13 The God of our ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,[f] has done this. For he has glorified his Servant[g] Jesus, the one you denied to Pilate’s face when he decided to release him—and you insisted that he be crucified.
Today one danger we face with miracles is that some boast of the wonders of God and takes the honour to themselves. It is dangerous to the minister to take the honour that belongs to God and it is also dangerous to the people because the people will no longer look to God or Christ as the performer of the miracle rather, they look at men.
When a great miracle happened through Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, he was incredibly careful not to receive the honour but to give it to God. Immediately he shouted at the people when they wanted to ascribe the honour of the miracle to him.
Acts 14: 11-15 11 And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 12And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates and would have done sacrifice with the people. 14Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
- WHEN WE SHOW MEN OURSELVES INSTEAD OF CHRIST: Today another thing that increases the quest to honour men is, when many have the privilege to reveal Christ to men through the pulpit, instead of preaching Christ many preach themselves. They tell the people how they have been the one that helped several people get miracles etc, instead of teaching men how to access Christ for life and ministry, many do this to ascribe honour to themselves and after the sermon instead for the people wanting to know Christ, they rather want to know the minister. You can always access a man that has revealed himself by seeing the way people react after his message. Do men want to know Christ more or want to know him more? This raises a lot of altar of honour in the heart of many Christians that if not nipped in the bud can lead to someone idolizing another man.
- WHEN YOU ARE RAISING LOYALISTS INSTEAD OF DISCIPLES: The duty and responsibility of a disciple, which Christ commissioned the people to do are to, reveal Christ to men and not to turn them into a loyalist. The duty of every child of God is not to take the place of God in the Life of the people but rather to help in removing the veil that prevents the people from seeing Christ. Some because of honour instead of revealing Christ, have done everything to turn them into loyalists, they are blinded to Christ whom we are to disciple them, it is important to remember any time we do this we have taken the bride away from Christ. You can imagine the pain on the cross and instead of Christ gaining, it is men that are gaining.
Therefore, beware and repent if you have fallen into any of these errors, or fallen from grace through the deceitfulness of men, as believers we respect men, and honour men but not above God, Christ, and His word. If you have fallen into this trap you need to review it and return to God. Remember we are all earthen vessels, let the excellency of the work be unto God and not unto you.
Seun Oloruntoba Is one of the Co-ordinators of God Seekers Renewal Centre based in Lagos Nigeria