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"If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor," (John 12:26), Jesus said, tying in the old with the new and revealing the essential unity of His ways with men.
Sometimes the best way to see a thing is to look at its opposite. Eli and his sons are placed in the priesthood with the stipulation that they honor God in their lives and ministrations. They fail to do this, and God sends Samuel to announce the consequences.
Unknown to Eli, this law of reciprocal honor has been all the while secretly working, and now the time has come for judgment to fall. Hophni and Phineas, the degenerate priests, fall in battle; the wife of Hophni dies in childbirth; Israel flees before her enemies; the ark of God is captured by the Philistines; and the old man Eli falls backward and dies of a broken neck. Thus stark, utter tragedy followed upon Eli's failure to honor God.
Now over against this set almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk. See how God winked at weakness and overlooked failures as He poured upon His servants grace and blessing untold. Let it be Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah or whom you will; honor followed honor as harvest the seed.
The man of God set his heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made the difference.
In our Lord Jesus Christ this law was seen in simple perfection. In His lowly manhood He humbled Himself and gladly gave all glory to His Father in heaven. He sought not His own honor but the honor of God who sent Him.
"If I honor Myself," He said on one occasion, "My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me" (John 8:54). So far had the Pharisees departed from this law that they could not understand one who honored God at his own expense. "I honor My Father," Jesus said to them, "and you dishonor Me" (v. 49).
Another saying of Jesus, and a most disturbing one, was put in the form of a question. "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?" (John 5:44). If I understand this correctly, Christ taught here the alarming doctrine that the desire for honor among men made belief impossible.
Is this sin at the root of religious unbelief? I believe it may be. The whole course of life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs. We exalt ourselves instead of God, and the curse follows.
In our desire after God let us keep always in mind that God also has desire, and His desire is toward the sons of men, and more particularly toward those sons of men who will make the once-for-all decision to exalt Him over all. Such as these are precious to God above all treasures of earth or sea.
In them God finds a theater where He can display His exceeding kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. With them God can walk unhindered; toward them He can act like the God He is.
In speaking thus I have one fear: that I may convince the mind before God can win the heart. For this God-above-all position is one not easy to take. The mind may approve it while not having the consent of the will to put it into effect.
Though the imagination races ahead to honor God, the will may lag behind, and the man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants the whole person, and He will not rest till He gets us in entirety.
Let us pray over this in detail, throwing ourselves at God's feet and meaning everything we say. Let's ask God today to be exalted over our possessions, our friendships, our comforts, our reputations. Let's ask Him to take His proper place of honor above our ambitions, our likes and dislikes, our family, our health and even life itself.
No one who prays thus in sincerity need wait long for tokens of divine acceptance. God will unveil His glory before His servant's eyes, and He will place all His treasures at the disposal of such a one, for He knows that His honor is safe in consecrated hands.
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) was pastor of Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 31 years. He also was the author of more than 40 books, including Faith Beyond Reason; Man: The Dwelling Place of God and The Knowledge of the Holy.
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