Who should we honor?
Should we honor great men? Is that not akin to idolatry? Yes, it could be a form of idolatry. But if a person knows who ultimately made that person great, it is not idolatry. An enlightened Christian knows and believes that all greatness comes from God. Also, we must remember what true greatness is according to Jesus Christ’s definition. Jesus’ definition of greatness was very much to opposite of what unregenerate man’s definition and assessment of greatness is.
According to Jesus, greatness is determined by the service we can give to others. By this definition we can also conclude the God is the greatest for He services all mankind and all His creation. If we are to be like God we must be givers. Have you ever noticed that God’s greatness not only exists in His wonderful nature and attributes but is demonstrated in His giving. Probably the most well known and most loved verse in the Holy Scriptures demonstrations this:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (KJV)
According to John 3:19 the reason that mankind is condemned is because men “love darkness, rather than light” Jesus says this is the reason for condemnation: God literally gave the very best gift that He could to mankind. That is why the sin of rejection is so great. It is a great offense to God when people reject this great gift of eternal life. To me this is one of the greatest evidences of the sin nature in men. How could any normal person reject eternal life? It is because of the sin nature and personal sin that clouds and darkens the mind of men. That is just what Jesus says a few verses below John 3:16.
According to John 3:18 no one goes to Hell because of sin! A person goes to Hell for refusing the remedy for sin. Jesus paid for all sin on the Cross and it is totally available to anyone that will receive it through faith in what Jesus has done. According to John 3:18 men are condemned not because of sin, but because of unbelief.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 (KJV)
All that are condemned are condemned already if they “believe not” Adam and Eve lost their relationship with God initially because of unbelief. They did not believe what God said. Eve believed the lie of Satan and disbelieved the promise of God. God promised that if they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that they would die. Eve did not believe God and believed the lie of Satan. You will not be condemned when you die, you are condemned already if you do not trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. John 3:19-20 (KJV)
Back to my original question! Should we honor great men? To which I answer, Yes! We can and should honor great men. However, we must use the proper standards by which to honor them. We must first recognize the source of all true greatness is God. Can we honor unbelievers that are great men? I believe that we can because they are only great because God allowed and made them great even though they do not believe and recognize it. But we cannot honor their unbelief. There have been many great men in human history that have not been believers in Jesus Christ. This is unfortunate for them. I will not enumerate them because you can probably name a great number yourself. Look what God says about honoring Him. Paul writes the following in Romans 13:7
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Romans 13:7 (KJV)
But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 1 Sam 2:30 (NKJV)
Apparently, according to Romans 13:7, we should honor all that deserve it (even in small matters).
I have used 1 Sam 2:30 as a personal promise on many occasions. God honors them who honor Him. When I was in Bible college, I referred to this promise for my studies and God truly honored me in my studies. How do you know when and how to honor God? You can only know this properly from what the Holy Scriptures say God desires.
No one can truly honor God who refuses His Son, Jesus Christ.
All that God requires of us is that we truly believe Him and His message of salvation, deliverance, and eternal life. Then we are truly in a relationship as sons and daughters of God and we can work with Him and serve Him acceptably.