Giving honor where honor is due

While reading Matthew 8, I began to ponder the story of the centurion – a man with an important and powerful position, who was granted considerable authority by the Roman Empire to serve in a foreign land. What caused this man, who served an Empire hated by so many, to not only build a synagogue, but to also demonstrate love to the Jewish people that was so evident to those around him that they sought to help him.

I wondered what his background was, whether he was born a Roman or was raised as one, taken from his homeland as a child or a youth, as was the case with so many others at that time, and recruited into the military to serve the empire. What sparked his love for Israel and, especially, what led to his acknowlegement of the Lord Yeshua and to the recognition of His authority? He undoubtedly heard of Yeshua’s miracles and how the religious leadership opposed Him. Did the centurion’s love for Israel spring from a study of the Hebrew scriptures? Was he curious about the national hope of Israel that anticipated the coming of a Messiah? Not much was said about this man, apart from his exceptional behavior that led the Jewish religious leadership to want to help him because they thought he was worthy. The point that stood out for me was that the centurion didn’t see himself as worthy. His behavior was certainly contrary to the behavior of most of the Roman cohort, especially when they were vested with such authority and power. From a human point of view, he could have commanded that that the Lord Yeshua come to him and heal his servant. He could have sent soldiers to forcibly bring Yeshua to him. He could have exerted his position and imposed on Yeshua to do as he said. But the centurion did none of that. He viewed himself as unworthy and undeserving for Yeshua to even enter his house. When one considers the pride that evidenced much of the doings of the Roman Empire, this Centurion’s behavior towards the Jewish people and His attitude and esteem towards the Lord Yeshua were nothing short of amazing.

Yeshua returned the honor, acknowledging the greatness of the man’s, which also recognized the Lord’s authority. May it be that we would be the possessors of such faith! There is much to learn from this Centurion. We all have a role in society. Some have a job that comes with a grand title, some have degrees, others serve in certain ways. Most people see themselves as worthy of honor because of the role and position they have in society. Some actually seek recognition for it, like those who donate to various causes, who seek a sense of perpetuity by having their names inscribed on the cornerstones buildings or hospitals or other public places, so everyone would know who was behind its establishment. I doubt if the centurion was interested in having his name written on the cornerstone of the synagogue he built, or in having a plaque with his name on it that would be placed prominantly on one of its walls. There are others, of course, who also don’t consider themselves deserving of all attention and glamour, even though they might be the ones responsible for very helpful and meaningful things. This is not intended to say that credit should not be given when it is due. There is a time and place for everything. Yet the attitude with which one does things is critically important. The centurion didn’t help the Jews because he wanted credit and wanted to be patted on the back. He did it selflessly, seeing the need and doing what he can to meet that need.

As we serve in the fellowship, our attitude is also very important. Do we serve to be seen and heard and to receive the praise of men, or selflessly to serve the King? It is natural to want to be in the limelight. But, what about serving when others don’t see us and don’t know how hard you worked?

What is our attitude when we come to God in prayer? Do we list all the things we “did for Him” so He will answer our prayers because we are deserving? Or do we submit ourselves to Him because He is in authority and His will should be done, regardless and despite all we do or did?

The Lord Yeshua alone is worthy to receive honor, glory and praise. He has put us here so that we would acknowledge His authority and submit to it. He alone is the One Who will bestow honor on His servants at the proper time.

Seasons

“All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.” (Isaiah 28:29).

In the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, we are told by the wisest of men that there is a time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). It is probably the best-known chapter in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and is as relevant to us today, as when it was written.

As seasons come and go, we experience changes in nature. Yet despite the recurring seasons every year, no season is like another that year, or even like the season the previous year. Nor will the following year be exactly the same in its seasons, although the names for the different seasons remain.

So it is in the seasons of life. We have our Summers, Winters, Springs and Falls, yet each season is different. Spring this year may be completely different from spring of last year. And it is definitely not the same as winter.

As humans,  we have no control over the changing of the seasons and times, yet sometimes we wish we did. “If only I could fast forward to a certain time”, or “If only I could press ‘pause’ on the present”, or “If only I could rewind, just once”, and the like. We yearn to change things, either that were or will be.

We all have these moments, don’t we? We may be going through a rough time and wishing the cold blizzard would just pass and the newness of Spring would arrive, bringing with it sweet smells of fresh flowers – the change from April showers to May flowers. Or, we may be sweating in the blazing summer sun, working hard and wishing for a break, a change of some sort.

What about making the most and best of where we are now? Why not live in the season we’re experiencing, while preparing for future season?

Seasons are varied and I will address but a few.

Singleness. All too often, believers tend to relate to singles as being poor and miserable, just because they are single, especially if they reach a certain age. I think singles contribute to that quite a bit by the attitude they have towards the subject of marriage and singleness, especially if they are depressed by it or show desperation.

This could be a fruitful season in our lives to serve God and the brethren. Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 7:32-36 that an unmarried person is concerned about the things of the Lord and how to serve him. This is a unique opportunity to serve where married people sometimes can’t. We should pray to use this time wisely, and not just wait for another season.

It’s time for believers to encourage the single people to serve, to show them that they are welcome as they are, that there is nothing wrong with them for being single, because there isn’t! It’s time to involve them as full citizens of the Kingdom and not as second-class citizens. God knows our hearts. He knows our desires, longings and dreams. He does have the perfect plan for each of us. We need to accept this season as a gift until he chooses to give us another gift.
God controls everything. It’s either we believe it or we don’t and how we relate to God’s sovereignty in this matter will determine us attitude in all seasons.

The gift of old age. “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness”.(Proverbs 16:31). Young people don’t always appreciate their elders. I don’t mean the leaders in our congregations, but rather those who are of older age and are mature in their thinking. We put so much emphasis on age. Why? It is not a factor of anything but of how long a person lived.

A common attitude, even among older people, is that the world belongs to the young. Does it really? Do our elders have no room or say anymore? Have they nothing to contribute? I believe they have much to give, much wisdom to impart, much love to show, if only given the chance. If only the young of age would seek it. We should not underestimate or judge older age, or any age, for that matter. A Titus 2 woman is an older and wiser woman, who is seasoned in life and can teach younger ones better than, perhaps, their own peers.

If you are young, do not despise old age or view it poorly. You have a lifetime of experiences to learn from. If you are older, you have a lifetime of experiences to share.

Loss and need for a friend. Going through a time of loss is difficult, particularly if it is experienced alone. Perhaps someone special is far from you and you long for the close friendship you had. This too is a season and it will pass. It’s not easy, but you do have one friend who does not change. He goes through all the seasons with you and is the same then and now. The Lord Yeshua. He is a friend that time and distance cannot overcome. Trust him. He can give you another human friend as well in time. Maybe now He wants you to learn to rely on Him first.

Whatever season we may be in now, we need to live in it and do our best to glorify God in it. We shouldn’t try to live in another season. But we can prepare for it, as the farmer plants seeds in anticipation of rain. After the rain, he reaps the harvest.

If you’re single, prepare yourself for marriage, yet serve as you can where God placed you today.

If you need a friend, pray for someone that both of you will be able to encourage and build one another. And ask God to show you if there is someone else who needs a friend. Maybe you can be that person.

If you’re older in age and feel out of the loop, pray to see where you can help others, perhaps who are younger, who need guidance. Be a Titus 2 woman (or Titus 1 man) and be a guide.

Try not to compare seasons. Every season in life, like each of us, is different. Try to encourage and build up others in the circumstances that they are in now. Encourage them keep to their eyes on The Lord and not on themselves. It will help us all to value the time we have now.

Be thankful in all seasons.

© Hannah Kramer