Not Without Honor

April 23, 2013

When a person gets a promotion at work, has won a prize or received some other kind of award or recognition the first people he/she normally wants to share that good news with is family. It may be by phone or E-mail or bursting into the house yelling, “Honey! Honey!” but in some manner a loved one is going to find out about their good fortune. And in most cases, the family is thrilled about it and there are high fives and victory dinners. Sometimes there is a jealous member of the family that tries to downplay the achievement or award but for the most part everyone is happy and is thrilled to share in the excitement.
Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way in all arenas of life. When a person is born again, they are excited. Some more noticeably than others due to temperament, but excited nonetheless. The first people they want to share this with are family then friends and coworkers. In this situation unless the rest of the family is already saved and has been praying for the person the reception of such news is not always welcomed. In many cases, you would have thought that they had just hugged them and said, “I just found out that I have the flesh eating virus!” The ice gets so thick that the iceberg the Titanic hit looks like an ice cube.
I can remember going back to the USAF class I was attending on Monday after I was saved Sunday. Instead of telling dirty jokes I was telling people how I got saved. Man, I was popular on Friday, but I had Bubonic plague for the rest of the class. When I went back to my normal job that following Monday, I soon went from being #1 in one of my coworker’s book to not even being on the last line of the back cover of his book. Things change!!!
Fortunately, I am an only child. Mom could have never raised any more like me by herself. When I told her about being saved I found out that she had been saved shortly before me and was praying about how to tell me and for me to get saved. That went well. Now, the rest of my family was another thing. I can remember having several of my uncles and aunts and their children in a room telling them of my conversion. Blank stares everywhere as I spoke. Being they were Methodists, I even told them that John Wesley preached being born again so they should be open to this newly saved Baptist telling them the same thing. Nothing happened and as far as I know none of them ever made a profession and they are all dead now except some of the cousins.
Witnessing to family, friends, and coworkers can be very frustrating especially if you did not get saved until you were an adult. If you are in the military or somewhere other than where you were born people may think you are a great soul winner, teacher, preacher or whatever. However, if you were saved where you were born or return there you will get very little honor from those folks. They know you too well. Frustrating though it may be, take heart for Jesus had the same problem.

Matt 13:53-58
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (KJV)

Mark 6:1-6
1 And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
2 And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this, which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
4 But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. (KJV)

Jesus had just left multitudes that listened to Him speak the parables of the Kingdom. It was such a crowd that He had to go out in a boat to teach. Now, He is in His own stompin’ grounds as we say and the newspaper reviews are quite different. Oh, they let Him speak in the synagogue out of curiosity if nothing else. They had heard about His adventures and some strange tales about miracles and such so it was interesting to have Him speak and maybe see a miracle.
Ah, but they got more than they bargained for as He spoke wisdom so far above His presumed education and background. The stories of His mighty works still perplexed them and they did not believe. Why, he is only the carpenter’s son they reasoned. We knew his father, his mother and his brothers and sisters are still here in town. Who does this upstart think he is?
The thinking problem was theirs. Had they searched the Scriptures and had known the prophecies they should have figured it out. Instead, they reasoned by their sight and missed out on any miracles except for a few folks that Christ healed out of His compassion. Even today people miss out on His miracles because of unbelief and that includes Christians.
Speaking of unbelief among professing Christians allow me to point out something about Matthew 13:55,56 and Mark 6:3. Is it not strange that there are many people who believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary when these passages clearly show that Joseph and Mary had a normal marital relationship after the birth of Christ? (Matt 1:25) Not only do the people mention His brothers they call their names and mention the sisters.
Remember, He was claiming to be a prophet and Messiah so they were actually saying that there were no other prophets in His family and that He was not even of a Levite family. He was only a carpenter’s son and nothing was unusual about His brothers or sisters so where did He get off by making these claims. Of course, I wonder where the concept of the perpetual virginity comes from as well since it is not what the Scripture says. We miss the miracles He did and make up other things because of our unbelief and ignorance of the Scriptures.
Anyway, back to having no honor. It is more than just not receiving praise or recognition. In the passages, it really is conveying that a prophet is not despised except in his own country. He is indeed honored elsewhere, but is despised in his hometown. At the time of the KJV translation to say without honor would be the same as saying despised because someone without honor would be despised by all except others like him/her. That idea is no longer held today as we elect someone without honor and keep them in office no matter how often their lack of honor manifests itself. Just shows that not only our language has degraded since then as we defend and honor the ones without honor instead of despising them.
If you do go back to your own country you will not just lack honor as in praise but often will be literally despised. There are a few souls that can grow up in a town and fruitfully minister in their hometown. My pastor and another pastor in the area actually pastor their home church. Very rare!! Most of us though will find it hard to be seriously considered by family and friends. In fact, one preacher I knew had severe problems with the fact that church he was raised in never called him Rev. or Pastor when he got back from Bible College. He was always Billy Bob to them and the offense he took affected his ministry because he spent too much time demanding respect rather than earning it.
In the beginning your home folks will laugh thinking you got religion and it will wear off. They will tolerate that for awhile. If you don’t quiet down or shut up completely they will get irritated and avoid you. If you refuse to be avoided and step on their toes, they will bring up your past especially if you were the one voted most likely to be in jail or ask, “Just who in the world do you think you are?” At this point they may well become abusive. I am sure the tones of voice of some of the folks in our passages were not calm and steady, but loud, insulting, and sarcastic. So take heart again, you are in good company if this is your experience. He was despised and rejected of men in His hometown and doubted by His family. What can you expect as His disciple? You certainly will not get a parade and the key to the city. So what is a person to do? Pray long, hard, and continuous and live the life. Don’t badger them. Love them and interact with them as much as possible. Don’t compromise your convictions, but don’t be disrespectful or join the Sin Police either. One of my co-workers once asked me to go with him to his wife’s church. She and the kids have been hounding him but he would not go unless I did. We talked about the Lord regularly, but I did not hound him. Well, it was not a church of my liking for sure. My kids looked at me as if to say, “Dad, what in the world have you gotten us into?” It was an experience.
The worse experience was when we returned to his house. A son that had to work came in and asked how the service went. The daughter replied that it was a service for your sinner relatives and Dad came to it. She talked like he was not even there and I could tell they brow beat him regularly. There was a layoff and I moved out of the area. Outside of a miracle that man never got saved because his family did not respect him and they had a “holier-than-thou” thing going on that would gag anyone.
Like fishing lures, you have to know what works for each relative or friend. Some may like confrontation and “lively” debates. I can debate as lively as anyone else can. Some do subtle hints well. Some like you to ask general questions or to answer general questions. Some will listen to your application of a biblical principle in relation to a newspaper story, a hometown event or family issue. Some just need to know that you are there for them in a crisis and so on. Whatever works for them use. Jesus treated people as individuals. You don’t have to beat them with a Bible every time you see them. Just be in tune with Jesus and He will give you wisdom and the divine appointment.
You may have to accept the fact that your home and family are not your fields. It may take someone else to water the seed and bring in the harvest. Just don’t scorch the earth and make it harder for the other field workers. You throw enough rock and sand in with the water while you put on the heat and you will end up with a concrete block instead of a fertile field. Even if you have already blown it, pray and God can shake the earth to put cracks in that concrete so that a seed can fall in and grow up to move even the thickest steel reinforced slabs. Let Christ handle your family and friends. He wants them saved far more than you do. Let them be His mission not yours. If He chooses to use you to win them then that is well and good. If He chooses to use someone else, fine. As long as the people get saved all is well.
Remember it is not your honor that is important anyway. It is the Lord’s. If you are in the ministry to get honor, forget it! That is not only the wrong reason, but it is also the least thing you may receive. Most congregations will give you the boot quicker than the crowds turned on Christ during His passion. Honor and respect is rare unless the congregation goes overboard the other way and puts you on a pedestal so high you are bound to get dizzy and fall.
You may not be a hireling, but many congregations think you are. Many deacons think they own and run the church and you are their mouthpiece and errand boy. Cross them and you are uncalled no matter how much they said you were definitely the man God called in the beginning. Isn’t it amazing how quickly God can change His mind at times? Well, that is the way it is portrayed anyway. So give up the personal honor thing or get out of the ministry. You will get disappointed soon enough to quit anyway. Seek His honor to be exalted and to receive honor from Him and you will stand strong even if you are without honor or despised like Him.
Worldly honor is fleeting and fickle, but honor that comes from God is eternal. The world will only despise you for a little while, but those without Him will one day be rejected forever. Will you walk in His footsteps despising the shame and receive a crown and a throne? We may yet have to resist unto blood thus what we may have already endured is a light burden. (Heb 12:2-4) He did not receive honor from men and we should not seek or worry about it either. Let us believe in His promises and receive the honor that comes from God. (John 5:41,44) Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Maranatha!



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