How should we receive compliments, if God alone deserves honor?
I’ve struggled with receiving honor, and showing honor to others, because I know God is the one doing things through us, so he alone deserves honor and glory. Yet the scripture says, “show honor to whom honor is due and respect to whom respect is due”.¹ So, why does he command us to honor others? When we are born again, the Holy Spirit is part of our new identity. Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, receive the Holy Spirit.² Just like God breathed physical life into Adam, the Holy Spirit is God’s spiritual life to believers. God is literally part of who I am. I live physically because God knit me together and I live spiritually because he lives in me.³ As a born-again believer, I truly deserve God’s praise, because God is doing good things through me. I didn’t deserve to be born-again, but Jesus gave me this new life out of his lovingkindness. So, if I now deserve honor and glory why does God warn us about pride? It’s true that I deserve honor and praise, but its only because God is doing things through me. The natural response to undeserved gifts is thankfulness, but pride comes when we think we deserve what we got, apart from God. Ezekiel says Israel transform the beauty of God’s ornaments into pride.⁴ They boasted about themselves apart from God, as if their beautiful land and their wealth was a result of their efforts, apart from God. It’s true that we earn every honor that God is giving us, but our pride should be in God, because he is the one doing things through us.⁵ Jesus said not to seek glory from men, but from God.⁶ When someone honors us, our hearts should be filled with thankfulness not pride. When men praise us, we should be thankful to God, for what he did through us. Everything we do should be to please God, so whatever men are praising us for, we should have been doing it for God.⁷ If we help someone or show kindness to them, we should be doing it to please God, but also out of genuine love for them.⁸ If someone compliments us for something, it’s not wrong to say thank you, even though God is the one doing it through us. God looks at our heart to see if we are thankful to him, or filled with pride, at the compliment. Sometimes we can redirect the thanks to God, by replying, I’m just glad God used me, but it’s not always a good time to share why we did what we did. If a pastor or godly person is saying or doing good things, God tells us to honor that person, because he really is pleased with what they are doing. It’s up to that person whether they accept our honor correctly and are encouraged and thankful to God, or whether they take all the credit and become puffed up. Whether we are giving or receiving honor our mindset should be to give praise and thanks to God. We should also thank and honor unbelievers, because God also uses them for good, even though they don't give him credit.
① Romans 13:7 ② John 20:22 ③ Galatians 2:20 / John 10:34-35 / Job 10:11 ④ Ezekiel 7:20 ⑤ 1 Corinthians 1:31 / Romans 15:17-18 ⑥ John 5:44 ⑦ Colossians 3:23 ⑧ Mark 12:31-32
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