Pastoral Exhortation

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 24 July 2016

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Give Honour to Whom Honour Is Due

In our world that teaches its youths to pursue self-honour, giving honour to whom it is due is not at all seen as an important virtue. A great many people do not even bother to think about the need to show respect and honour. Nothing is as dishonourable as one’s neglect of giving honour to those whom the Bible says it is due.

The Word of God teaches us in Romans 13:7 that we are to “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Giving honour to those whom it is due is an obvious duty of Christians. The freedom that Jesus gives to us does not cut us loose from our obligation to show respect and love to those in places of respect. Rude and disrespectful attitudes, words and actions from Christians are unworthy of Christ.

Esteeming others is our duty, whether it be in family, church or society. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1 Peter 2:17). Paul exhorted the Roman Christians: “in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). The Bible repeatedly teaches us to have that beautiful attitude, which is a promoter of Christian fellowship and also a preventer of bitterness, jealousy and quarrels among the brethren.

Hesitation to show respect is not fitting to the spirit of genuine Christianity. So I would like to urge all Gethsemaneans to cultivate a respectful spirit. We must not be passive in giving honour to others. We must be joyful and quick to show our respect for others. Be enthusiastic in greeting others, for we are told, “greet ye one another” (1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Peter 5:14).

The church is particularly commanded: “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints” (Hebrews 13:24). It is the duty of every church member to be diligent to show his appreciation for the spiritual leadership given to them with respectful greetings extended to pastors, elders and preachers. This instruction is emphatically taught in Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Those who show respect to God’s servants, as Scripture exhorts, are assured of special blessings that would profit them.

Cultivate Good Speech

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23).

This saying is set in the context of having wise counsellors. There is great profitability in listening to men who can provide wise advice about matters of life, including both spiritual and mundane matters.

It is unquestionably God’s will concerning us that we be wise in speech to exhort and edify one another. God wants His people to cultivate wise speech. God’s Word sounds out His great expectation concerning their communication with one another. “The lips of the righteous feed many” (Proverbs 10:21). Also, “the tongue of the wise is health” (Proverbs 12:18), i.e. wherever wise speech is maintained, the affairs of life will be healthy. Moreover, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4); thus when the tongue is guided by the Spirit of God and by the words of Holy Scripture, it will elicit wise thoughts in the hearers.

In every Christian home, godly conversation must always be maintained. Parents are expected to be wise teachers of their children at home. They must teach their children God’s truth (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 11:19). Furthermore, children are warned against swearing against the parents. “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness” (Proverbs 20:20).

The Christian’s duty to exhibit gracious, wholesome speech is repeatedly exhorted in the epistles of Paul. In Ephesians 4:29, he admonished, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” By the same token, he said in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” The provider of an apt answer will indeed have great joy. His own conscience will rejoice that his words have been helpful; on top of that, the gratefulness of the hearer will also be a reason for his joy.

We should be careful not only about the content and manner of our speech, but also about the timeliness of our speech. “A word … in due season, how good is it!” Our words should befit the situation. A piece of advice, given at the right moment and in the most suitable manner, will be very profitable to the hearers. So before we speak, let us examine whether our words are truthful, edifying, gracious and appropriate.