The Currency of Heaven

“Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.”- William Shakespeare

Our American culture has made an art form out of tearing people down. It’s the basis for many reality shows and celebrity media outlets. Dishonor is entertainment. Even in the church, it has been said that the Christian army is the only one known for shooting it’s wounded.

Paradoxically, there are a lot of fake honors out there. For the right price, you can appear in Who’s Who. If your donation is large enough, an organization will name you “Man (or woman) Of The Year.” I have personally been given an official government award for my service in a New Jersey county in which I don’t actually do anything for their residents. I think they found me online.

Recently our staff at New York City Relief watched a great documentary film called Compelled By Love. It’s the story of Heidi and Roland Baker and their work amongst the poorest of the poor in Mozambique, Africa with Iris Global. One of the most powerful statements Heidi Baker makes in the film is, “Honor is the currency of Heaven.”

“Honor is the currency of Heaven.”

Honor is defined as a verb this way: regard with great respect.

Heidi Baker described how they used to do outreach in Mozambique by rolling into a village with a sound system and a screen with which they would start showing the Jesus movie. Now instead, when they arrive they gather the chiefs and elders of the tribe. One by one, the outreach team members lower themselves before each seated leader to meet them face-to-face to honor them publicly before the village. These volunteers kneeling in the dirt are many times professional doctors, lawyers and business people in the US. Now the outreach teams are welcomed back for more future outreaches to these villages. The investment of honor pays off in long-term favor and relationship.

Josiah Haken (above right), Director of Outreach at New York City Relief, sets a high standard for how we serve soup to the homeless. He teaches volunteers that we should do a better job at presenting food and beverages than a barista at Starbucks. If soup spills down the side of the cup while ladling it out, that cup should be wiped clean. Believe me, that is a large percentage of our cups. Would you hand the President of the United States a sloppy cup of soup? Everyone should get the presidential treatment. That’s how honor works.

What does God say about honoring people?

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. -Romans 12:10 ESV

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. -1 Samuel 2:8 NIV

Sometimes the church can be a little inbred. We get homogenized by relegating ourselves to people groups made up of people just like us. Our racial, spiritual, economic cliques trap us in a bubble of groupthink. This naturally leads us to a place where we can’t relate to people outside our bubble, because we don’t know them. It can also lead to judging and stereotyping.

A good friend and board member of New York City Relief named Bob Goodwin (left, on right) is a marketing executive in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rather than eating lunch at his desk, as often as he can, he walks outside to find a homeless person to have lunch with. This is his way of escaping the corporate, white-collar world to experience what others outside are going through. It’s the way he befriends Jesus through the poor.

At The Relief Bus outreach, we are going for the same thing: communing. We aspire to not just feed the homeless, but eat with them, talk with them and do life with them. Our goal is to enter a journey with the poor where we aren’t seen as above them, but alongside them. As we befriend those who may be very different than us, we are showing them honor.

This currency of honor is so valuable that almost all who receive it are significantly impacted. Giving honor in everyday life is becoming a lost practice in our society. Because of this scarcity, it is even more valuable and for those who are usually dishonored, it is priceless.

This currency will cost us time, comfort and overcoming our own biases. The payoff is that we become enriched. When we do Jesus stuff, we become more of the person we always wanted to be.

The currency of honor is something we all have pocketfuls of. Opportunities to spend it are everywhere. Rather than spending it in the regular places, take a look around to see who is literally starving for someone to regard them with great respect. Then watch Heaven come to earth.

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