Some more thoughts on honour. I have suggested that it is a really important principle for the effective functioning of a spiritual community, and in the last post I proposed a few groups of people to whom our honour should be directed. One thing I have noticed is that many of us - perhaps leaders especially - can feel tempted at times to expect that honour should come our way, and we're rather put out when it doesn't! But I have had to learn a vital lesson which we must all learn at some point - honour can never be demanded; it has to be granted. The minute we start to think that people really jolly well ought to recognise our gift, or our position, importance or stature, and try to make them feel bad if they don't, then we are actually hindering the flow of grace in our lives. Why? Because it is an expression of pride and God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Pet.5:5).
Trying to demand honour is like doing what Jesus accused the religious leaders of doing in taking the place of honour at the feasts (Matt.23:6). It is being like the guy in the parable that Jesus then told (Luke 14:7-11- a really important story to learn from as we try to develop a culture of honour). This guy decided how much honour he thought he was worth by where he chose to seat himself. He then ended up being humiliated as he was moved down the table. It is good to remember what I heard an old preacher say many years ago: God says our job is to humble ourselves and his job is to lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6); if we try to do his job for him, he will end up doing our job for us!
Jesus went on to encourage us to take the lowest place - and rather than regarding this as doing a menial job necessarily, I'd suggest we see it as taking a place where we concern ourselves primarily with the honour we give to others rather than what they give to us. Let others grant the honour (as happens in the parable - v.10) rather than try to demand it.
If people fail to honour the grace-gift in us, we have to learn to deal with it, and leave it with God for the 'due time'. I think part of Paul's tone in Romans 12:6-8 is like he is saying 'stop waiting for the title, or the position, or the honour; if you have a gift just get on and exercise it. And then let others recognise and celebrate the grace within you as it becomes obvious to all.' We don't need a position to be powerful. We don't need recognition to release the gift. Let's just use the grace he has given us to bless others.