The Honour That Comes From God

When a man is raised to the peerage by the King, we may be sure that he has shown his fitness for the honour by some distinguished public service, and also that he has the means to maintain the dignity of the title. A chimney sweep might be a most honourable man, but if he were made a peer of the realm he would be the butt of a thousand jests. It could not be done. His lack of means and general unfitness for that position would make it impossible.

God bestows high honour upon men. There are people in this world who have received from Him "the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:5), and they can rejoice in those moving words, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1). And nobody will question the fact that the honour that God bestows must be greater than any that the greatest of Kings can give, for God's gifts are for ever.

But who are they, to whom they are given? Not to "many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble" (1 Cor. 1:26). There have been some from these exalted ranks, but they have been the first and most ready to own that they had no claim at all to such distinction. There is a grand song in the Old Testament composed and sung by a Spirit-inspired woman, who knew something about the ways and grace of God, which answers the question. She sang, "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes and to make them inherit the throne of glory" (1 Sam. 2:8). Mary, the mother of our Lord, had learnt the same great truth, when she said, "He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree" (Luke 1:52). This is God's way and it magnifies His grace, it is such as these that He blesses.

But if God takes up those that have neither claim nor fitness for the exalted place and relationship in which He puts them, is He indifferent as to how they conduct themselves in it? Most certainly not. If the King scattered his distinctions with a lavish hand upon unworthy men, if would bring him as "the fountain of honour" into contempt, the throne itself would be discredited, and the peerage become a laughing stock. We are sure that God cannot be less careful about the conduct of those whom He exalts than the King; their lives and ways must be consistent with their relationship to God.

Wonderful words are addressed to them as to this. Here are a few of them: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children" (Eph. 5:1, N.Tr.). "Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" (Titus 2:10). "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:14-16). "Ye are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

The consideration of such words as these raises the question at once, How can it be done? And we answer, There must be both fitness and means, and God gives both. Those upon whom the honour of sonship has been bestowed can give "thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12). Exceeding great and precious promises have been given to them by which they become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). They are born of God, "begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 1:3-4). And along with the new inward life and nature which God has imparted to all His children, there is that which answers to the robes that peers of the realm wear on state occasions which indicate their rank. God's honoured ones have a glory in which they stand before Him — they have received both robe and coronet. Paul said, "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9). And to every child of God Christ is made, "Wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). It all might be summed up in those full and happy terms, "In Christ" and "He has made us accepted in the Beloved" or in the Lord's own words to His Father, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them" (John 17:22).

Now this glory in which God's sons are enrobed, which the world does not yet see is not like the insignia of a viscount or earl, that can be put on or off as the King commands. It is part of their very constitution, and as vital as the new life that they have received; it is an inseparable part of it, and with the life forms the suitability they possess for the exalted place that is theirs.

But what of the means necessary for the maintenance of a life consistent with the dignity of sonship? These too are given to us. Peter said, "According as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3), and Paul said, "Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son to your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6). And we remember the Lord's own words to Paul, His suffering servant, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).

There are then divine power and divine grace, which are more than enough to lift every child of God above weakness within, and to enable them in spite of foe without to be more than conquerors through Him that loves us. And they may take full advantage of these by the Holy Spirit that dwells within them. "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8) is the Lord's own promise, and again, "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive" (John 7:37-39).

It is right that we should consider these great truths. There is this great dignity of sons bestowed, and a suitability in keeping with the dignity and means to support it are supplied from God's own fullness. that we might not bring dishonour upon the Name of Him who has bestowed this honour upon us.