Proverbs 3:13-18, focusing on verse 16
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
V. 16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.
There are so many, especially it seems in the church, who refuse to apply verse 16. They refuse to create a culture of honor.
Today is a day where churches place a high value on their pastors teaching them how to apply what Scripture teaches. Well, first, we must get the basics. Wisdom is basic to the faith of Christ.
And honor is a basic aspect and application of wisdom. Scripture teaches us to honor others. Honoring parents (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:2) comes to mind as a good example. Honor in the church is a natural extension of this principle, as we are to honor those in authority. Likewise, those in positions of authority are to honor and minister to those under their care, given leaders are ministers who watch over us (Hebrews 13:17) and do so for our good (Romans 13:4).
I observe, perhaps, that the lack of honor appropriated in churches is rooted in rampant lack of wisdom. When Scriptures exhort us to cry out for wisdom in the areas where we lack it (James 1:5), are we following through, or are we refusing to do so? I speak to myself as much as to my audience.
I will share an example of this culture of dishonor.
One pastor who I know told me that the church of which he was part was “a graveyard for ministry callings”. He was acknowledging that his church had a way of swallowing up people who were called and gifted.
But something else was present when I conversed with him. I picked up that it was not accidental, but rather it was a tool the enemy could use to keep people from advancing into their callings.
One person at this church, in an example of that graveyard mentality, along with her family, has been called to missions work. However, this person has led another ministry at the church for a number of years, and is now recognized not as called to missions work, or for that zeal for teaching the Scriptures, but as the head of that ministry.
This individual has long since grown tired of this work, but the church has continued to only recognize the ministry title. They have felt trapped in an assigned identity. The church has left this person in place, without giving this person or their family a platform for the outworking of their calling.
This is a subtle form of dishonor that happens in churches everywhere.
It is dishonor to say of a woman who happens to play violin in your church, but may have a calling to preach, “Oh, that’s just our church’s violin player”, when the church may not provide a platform for her to excel at her calling.
When we grow to admit that a church is a graveyard for something, we admit we have death in our presence in that aspect. We resign ourselves to this fact and instead of fighting to change it, allow that death to repeatedly take place. Jesus, the author of life, is no author of death.
It is dishonor to allow Lazarus to moulder in the grave.
So, what is the antidote?
How do we honor others?
Churches, all, each, and every one of them, are put in place to build platforms underneath individuals for their success in whatever ministry to which the Father of Lights (James 1:17) has called them.
Jesus places us on a platform called the Cross, for our success in the ministry He chooses for us. This platform involves death to self and giving life to others. He gives only good and perfect gifts, and he gives them without repentance or variance. It is our responsibility as churches to follow His example and to do the same for others. It is our responsibility to give that life to others in the same way He gave it to us.
This is wisdom and this is honor.
Honor is found in wisdom. Where honor fails to flow, there is a good chance that wisdom is not present. When wisdom takes hold of a congregation or pastor, then honor is sure to follow.
If your church, pastor, is not doing this, not honoring, not seeking godly wisdom, you need to fight for it to do so. Cut whatever needs to be cut to make this happen. Arrange to meet with people who are not working according to their gift sets, and reorganize your staff, if need be. Reorganize your church’s leadership around the gift sets that are present. A missionary is not just a Sunday School Teacher, a violin player, a nursery coordinator, an usher, a greeter, or a youth pastor.
Acknowledge the gifts present, ALL OF THE GIFTS PRESENT, and use all of those gifts, even if you don’t understand one or more of those gifts, like prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, discerning of spirits. These often-seen-as-weird gifts have a place, even in a non-Pentecostal or non-Charismatic church. So, place them and place them well. And, if you are not familiar with them, then ask someone who is familiar with how those gifts can be used, and then begin to place those gifted people throughout your church.
A second responsibility of a pastor, which will keep that graveyard mentality at bay, is that, as honor toward others and their callings is developed, we should also help develop life-giving relationships among our congregation. Life fights and overcomes death. Biblically, death is swallowed up in victory. The grave has no more stinging capacity in either the life of a believer or a church. It is time we started walking according to that principle, and stop allowing the spirit of death to have so much territory in our churches because we allow for and practice a culture of dishonor.
A third responsibility of the church is to encourage individuals to discover and acknowledge their G-d-given gifts and callings, and to develop those, even if they do not seem relevant to the ministry in which those individuals are currently serving.
A fourth responsibility is that we need to develop others who can take over for those who have callings elsewhere besides their current area of service.
Consider these for today.
Honor is in the hand of wisdom. The one who finds wisdom will practice honor of others. The one who honors others will find life, wealth, and blessing.