It is nice to be honored, isn’t it? In America we like to watch awards shows where they honor actors, singers, athletes and more. We have honorary college degrees, employee of the month, customer of the day, and much more. When we get a good review at work and a raise, it feels nice. As a whole we tend to think of recognition as honor, but they are two different things. Recognition means just that, you have been recognized, identified, or remembered. Picture yourself walking down the street and you hear someone call your name, you were recognized by someone. Honor includes respect, esteem, and recognition. Bonnie and Clyde received recognition, Mother Theresa received honor. So why does it seem that some receive honor and others do not. Two people can do the same job at work, with the same production, yet not receive the same reward? The Biblical answer to that is that only the humble can receive honor.
Proverbs 29:23 (NASB), “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
Matthew 23:12 (NIV), “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Proverbs 18:12 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”
Any one of us can go around “tooting our own horn” and bragging about all of our accomplishments. We could corner our bosses and demand recognition and a raise for our hard work. We could take out a front page ad to display our talents and gifts to gain fame. However, true honor, honor that hasn’t been forced or manipulated, only comes to those who are humble.
If your work, your effort, and the application of your God given gifts and talents are all used just so that you can gain recognition, then that is your reward. So, you better be happy with the recognition of men. If you want honor, which is so different than simple recognition, you better be operating out of a completely different motivation. The man who works hard on his job because he knows that his boss expects it, because he acknowledges that he is on the time clock and being paid for his time, and because he wants to represent the Kingdom well, will receive true honor. The person who uses their artistic talent to glorify God and to support their family will receive honor. The artist, who uses their talent to glorify themselves, or a certain lifestyle, may win awards, and gain recognition, but they will never have honor. It’s so easy to see the motivation in other people, sometimes harder to see it in ourselves.
We tend to want to point the finger at others and say their effort isn’t good enough, or their motivation is not right, but we want them to honor us for every little thing that we do.
Jonathan Edwards said it this way, “Some persons are always ready to level those above them down to themselves, while they are never willing to level those below them up to their own position. But he that is under the influence of true humility will avoid both these extremes. On the one hand, he will be willing that all should rise just so far as their diligence and worth of character entitle them to; and on the other hand, he will be willing that his superiors should be known and acknowledged in their place, and have rendered to them all the honors that are their due.”
Honor should never be sought after. It is earned by being humbly obedient to those in authority over us, and doing whatever our hands find to do as unto the Lord. We do our best because it is the right thing to do, because this honors God, and God will make sure that we are honored. If you feel cheated of honor, examine your heart! That is pride speaking. God will never bypass the chance to honor those who deserve it. He said in Romans 13:7, to give honor where honor is due. He doesn’t ask us to do something that He won’t do. He honors those who have a contrite spirit, a repentant heart. Pride is sin and clearly indicates a heart that has not humbled itself.
Isaiah 66:2 (NKJB), “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD.“But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”
James 4:6,10 (NIV), “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
So, this all may go against our flesh, but most good things do! We have to humble ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you ever get recognized for your hard work at your job, at Church, or at home, just work hard. Do your job cheerfully and with a good attitude. Use your talents and gifts to help others, and not just yourself, to glorify God. Don’t worry if anyone is watching or takes notice. God sees. His rewards will be so much better than the recognition of man.
Matthew 6:1 (Message Bible), “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.”