Cultivating a culture of honor

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By Mark Ellis –

In January, before the onset of Covid, our family attended a missions conference in San Diego put on by the Antioch Church movement. One of the messages that impacted us the most was one delivered by John Bevere, which was based on his book: Honor’s Reward: How to attract God’s favor and blessing.

As we reflected on the message afterward, we concluded that some of the most sad and unfortunate experiences in church life happened when a church leader left their position feeling dishonored.

The church intended to honor the leader on the way out the door, but somehow communication lines were crossed, feelings were bruised, and an unpleasant fragrance was left hanging in the air.

Before hearing Bevere’s message, I had failed to fully appreciate the massive importance of honor and the strong case for it in Scripture.

In 2 John 8, the Apostle talks about working to receive a full reward. “Talking about a full reward must mean there is a partial reward,” Bevere noted. “God wants you to have the full reward. John is speaking of the judgment seat of Christ, where every one of us will be examined as believers.

“There were certain people in the gospels who got a full reward, some who got a partial reward, and some who got nothing,” he observed.

In Mark 6, Jesus taught in his hometown synagogue at Nazareth. While his hearers were astonished by his teaching, they derided him by saying, “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary?…And they took offense at him.”

Afterward, Jesus said: “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household.”

The startling implication of their dishonor is revealed in the next verse: “He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he wondered at their unbelief.”

The town of Nazareth got a partial reward from heaven because of their unbelief, but underlying the unbelief was the fact that they dishonored Jesus in their hearts.

By contrast, a Roman Centurion honored Jesus greatly and received a full reward with the healing of his servant.

Bevere talked about the importance of honoring the authority figures God has placed in our lives, including political leaders, pastors, bosses, teachers, coaches, and parents.

“God has delegated levels of authority over each of our lives,” he noted. All authority is of God. People don’t like that because they’ve had mean, cruel authorities. The Bible says all authority is of God, but all authority is not godly. There are ungodly authorities all throughout the Bible.”

When Peter wrote in his epistle to fear God and honor the king, the king ruling at the time was Herod Agrippa I. “He was murdering Christians to gain favor with the Jewish people. You have to see beyond the man’s behavior to honor the authority God has placed on him. In America we say the leader has to earn our respect. But fear of God says I honor your position and not your behavior.”

Bevere gave a striking example of one church suddenly growing ten-fold after the pastor met with the mayor and asked about the city’s largest unfunded budget need. The pastor had overheard members of his church badmouthing city leaders.

The mayor told the pastor one of their unfunded items was masks for firefighters and they needed $25,000. The church took an offering and raised the amount required on one Sunday, then presented it to the city. “ The church grew rapidly after that, with many city officials getting saved and attending the church.”

Bevere noted that we live in a society that trains young people to dishonor their parents. He would not allow his children to watch Disney movies because the kids in the movies were disrespecting their parents and got a reward later.

In Deuteronomy 27, the Scripture says: “Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.” Bevere maintains the 10 commandments are listed in order of importance, and dishonoring parents is more serious to God than murder, adultery, and stealing.

“Reuben lost his birthright because he dishonored his father, while Simeon and Levi murdered but nothing happened to their birth order,” Bevere noted. (1 Chronicles 5)

Bevere challenged employees to serve their boss not as a man-pleaser, but as unto the Lord. “You’re not working for men, but for God,” he said.

He said more miracles are seen overseas in developing countries, rather than in the U.S., because America lacks a culture of honor. “They get their eyes opened and we get our headaches healed. The elders who rule among us are worthy of double honor.”

Bevere described an incident when another pastor hired a key employee from his organization without informing him while he was on vacation. “I was livid when I returned and found out. This position required a lot of training. It took me two days to forgive this guy.”

The Holy Spirit led Bevere to give the offending pastor a new watch he bought on vacation. Three weeks later he hired a woman who was even more productive and efficient than his previous employee.

“I have discovered the greatest rewards come when we honor those who dishonor us,” he said. “Jesus said if you honor those who honor you, what reward do you have? Gang members do the same.”

“The Scripture tells husbands to honor their wives as the weaker vessel. That doesn’t mean she’s beneath you. It means she can’t bench press as much as you. It says if you don’t honor your wives, God will not listen to your prayers. That’s a miserable place to be.” (1 Peter 3).

John with his wife Lisa

Some of Bevere’s greatest rewards have been received when he honored his wife, his children, and members of his organization.

“Heaven is a culture of honor. God loves honor!”