If you were with us in the Sunday morning bible class last week you would have heard a discussion on the honoring of God. So that there is no confusion, I believe that honoring God is the very purpose that we exist. When Solomon brought his book Ecclesiastes to a conclusion he stated that our whole duty in life is to fear God and keep his commandments (Ecc. 12:13). This, as Solomon writes applies to every person. No, Solomon did not use the word honor. But honor is about giving value or weight to something. If you honor God, you give weight to his words. If you honor God, you look at his word with gravity, understanding that his word is supreme. One who honors God listens to God when God has spoken. In others words, he keeps His commandments. If you honor Godís power and authority you recognize he has the right and ability to save you or cast you into hell. Or, as Solomon said, you fear God, knowing that he will hold you accountable for every action, whether good or evil (Ecc. 12:14). But honor can be a tricky thing. There are many people who claim to honor God, but they fail to do so because of their teachings, their actions, etc. Consider what Jesus wrote in Matt. 15:8-9ďThis people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. ĎBut in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.Ē The Pharisees claimed to honor God, but failed to do so because they took a tradition which they held, and taught it as if it were doctrine. In the immediate context of this chapter it hits on two issues of the Pharisees. The first is that they openly violated the commandment of God in order to keep their traditions. They failed to honor their parents by basically claiming a religious exemption. This particular aspect of the Pharisees teaching is what we usually zero in on. However, there is a second issue with the teaching of the Pharisees that we often lose sight of. Not only did they loose a commandment which God had given because of their traditions, they also added to Godís commands because of their traditions. Remember how this conversation started? ďWhy do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread (Matt. 15:2).Ē The Pharisees were condemning the apostles because they were eating without first washing their hands. They believed that if one ate without first washing their hands, they made the food unclean. Then, by eating unclean food, they in turn made themselves unclean. In the Jewish culture, to avoid this problem, there was a ďbasinĒ of sorts at the door of every house. You were required to dip your hands into this basin before eating. Apparently Jesusí disciples didnít do any such thing. The Pharisees felt this violated the traditions that allegedly had been handed to from Moses, to Joshua, to the judges, and prophets until it was recorded in the Talmud. To violate this, according to Rabbi Joses was as great of a sin as adultery. So, you can see why the Pharisees would become upset at such actions. However, their actions, while trying to remain pure were misguided because they added to Godís command. Yes, purity was a must. Yes, being inwardly clean was required. But, they taught something that God didnít teach, that God didnít command as if he did. Doing this is not honoring God. If we honor Godís word, not only will we not take away from his command, but we wonít add to it either. Certain traditions have risen up and fallen throughout the centuries. The subject of the suit and tie was heavily discussed last week. When attending with us, you know that I wear a tie. I donít wear a tie because they bible says, ďthou shall wear a tie.Ē I wear a tie because of the honor I would bestow upon another. If President Obama asked me to dinner, Iíd wear a suit and tie. When going to a funeral, I wear a suit and tie. When going to a wedding, I wear a suit and tie. Why? Because that is how I choose to honor the deceased, the newly wed couple, and our president. I know many who would wear jeans, overall, etc to such locations. Why? Because that is what they always wear. They donít put stock into a personís apparel. They choose to honor in different means. Does this mean they honor those persons less? No. In fact, I have been put to shame by those not in a suit in tie. I recall one wedding I attended where I wore a suit and tie. The person that offered a prayer before the reception honored God, honored the bride and groom and he did so in a nice polo. I would argue that he honored God and the newly wed couple a great deal more than the guy sitting in the back wearing a tie. Now, let us go back to Rom. 14-15. Some honor one day as more valuable than another. Paul said that we were not to judge our brother in such matters because it was done to glorify God. If I choose to honor an article of clothing more than the next because I hope to glorify God that is my business. Who am I to judge another in this regard?
Grinnell church of Christ
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