A heart for God and a heart for people

“Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” – 1 Peter 2:17

Many churches across our nation uses this simple phrase as their church slogan: A heart for God and a heart for people. This stems from the greatest command given to us by our Lord, to love God and to love our neighbor. In 1 Peter 2:17, Peter continues with instruction on how we are to live in an ungodly world. As we saw earlier, we are to live in such way that others will see Jesus. In this simple verse, we see four basic commands that, if obeyed, will give us a true heart for God and a heart for people.

Honor all men. To honor is to show respect toward them. It is to recognize them as valuable. It is to love them. The word ‘men’ in this verse in the KJV is in italics. This word was put here by the translators in order to provide better reading. However, the original text just said, ‘honor all.’ In other, words, we are to honor everyone. There are three basic things that we need to understand in relation to honoring all.

Honor all who are created in the image of God. Every human being is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created mankind, male and female, on the sixth day of creation. It mentions that God created them in His own image and after His own likeness. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? I believe that we are created with three capacities that God has: mind, emotions, and will. We are created with a mind. We have the ability to think and to reason. We are created with emotions. We feel joy, sadness, and pain. We are also created with a will. We have the ability to choose. Since all people are created in the image of God, we have a responsibility to honor and respect everyone, no matter who they are. When we attack another human being, whether that attack is physical or verbal or mental, we are attacking the very nature of God Himself. As believers living in a post-Christian and anti-Christian society, we have the responsibility to honor all who are created in the image of God. It does not matter a person’s skin color, nationality, culture, or any other characteristics. We are to honor all.

Honor the defenseless. There are some created in the image of God who are not able to defend themselves. This includes those who are mentally and physically handicapped, the elderly, children, and the unborn. One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 139. I encourage you to read and study that chapter in its entirety. Verses 13-16, describes a baby in the mother’s womb. It mentions that we were made or knit together by the very hand of God. Even before we were noticeably human, we are recognized as one who is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ As Christians, we have a God-given responsibility to defend the defenseless. We should be actively involved in efforts to stop the holocaust of unborn children in our nation and around the world. We should come to the aid of those who are physically or mentally handicapped and work to provide for them and help them to function in this life. We should defend the elderly and make sure that their needs are met. We should defend our children against those depraved individuals in our society that would do them harm and from the indoctrination of an anti-Christian culture. As Christians, we cannot be passive. We cannot sit idly by while the defenseless are being abused and slaughtered. We have a mandated given to us by God to honor the defenseless.

Honor the unhonorable. This is probably the most difficult thing for us to do. How can we honor or respect someone who would abuse a child? How can we honor or respect the terrorist that would do us harm? How can we honor or respect those who attempt to change what God defined as marriage between one man and woman for life? Yet, we are told that we are to love our enemies and we are to love those who would do all manner of evil against us. Why? Because they too are created in the image of God. Because Christ died for them just as much as He died for you. God loves them and He desires that they would repent and be saved. We, as God’s people, are here on this earth for them. Think about it. Our purpose as ambassadors of Jesus Christ is to bring the Gospel message to all of the world. We are here in order to reach the homosexual, the pedophile, the murderer, and all sinners with the love of Jesus. We are to show them the same kind of love that Jesus showed us. We do not condone their sinful actions, yet we love them, because Jesus loves them. We reach out to them, because that’s what Jesus would do. We are all in the same boat. We are all sinners in need of a savior. If it were not for the grace of God, we too would be involved in the vilest of sins. Therefore, we love them, just as God loves us.

Love the brotherhood. The brotherhood is all those who are born again believers in Christ. 1 John 3:14 tells us that if we do not love fellow believers, then we are not truly saved. Those are some very sobering and convicting words, yet, it is true. There are many who claim to be born again that are not truly born again because they do not love other believers. One of the greatest evidences of true conversion is a love for other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sadly, many Christians do not express love toward other believers. We need to understand that even those believers who we may disagree with are still our brothers and sisters and we should love them all the same.

Fear God. To fear God, in this passage, is to reverence Him or to worship Him. As believers in Christ, we are to be God-fearing people. We are to be people that live lives of worship to God. We should live in such a way that we consider everything we do as an act of worship to God. This fear of God includes having a respect for His name and refusing to ever take His name in vain. Such fear of God should motivate us to live lives of holiness before Him. Since we believe in God, then we should live like it. Our fear of God should affect the way we live and conduct ourselves in this world.

Honor the king. This is a reference to how we relate to those in authority. We may not like or agree with those in authority over us, however, we must honor them and respect them. We honor them because of the position that they hold. Though the person may not be very honorable, the office is honorable and deserves and demands our respect. When we think of honoring the king, we not only think of earthly authorities, but we also think of the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords. King Jesus is the only one worthy of our praise and admiration. It is to Him we bow and submit ourselves to. We honor King Jesus by obeying His word, which tells us to honor all of mankind, including those who hold offices of authority.

A true believe in Christ will have a heart for God and heart for people. I encourage you to examine your life and ask yourself if you truly honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, and honor king.

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