Honour originates in our hearts and refers to the value we personally place on something or someone. Collectors hold certain items in higher esteem than non-collectors do. What others overlook may be highly valued by someone else and therefore honoured. We honour one when we ascribe to him in our hearts, and words, and actions the praise and obedience which are due to him. We honour God when we obey him and worship him in the right way.
Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23 when he said: “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’?” (Matt 21:42) Jesus was referring to himself as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah who will be rejected and crucified. God will then raise him up, and build a church on this cornerstone, embracing the Gentile as well as the Jew, and spreading through the entire world. This is a subject of wonder and praise to all the redeemed. Hence, “Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23)
The Bible shows many ways to honour and glorify God. We show Him high regard and reflect His character by being sexually pure (1 Corinthians 6:18–20), by giving of gifts (Proverbs 3:9), and by living lives devoted to Him (Romans 14:8). It is not enough to merely honour Him outwardly. God desires honour that comes from our hearts. “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’” (Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:6-7; Matt 15:8-9).
To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and worship, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-service only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devices. Numbers are only formal in worship. And their religion is only to comply with custom, and to serve their own interest. But the wanderings of mind, and defects in devotion, which are the believer’s burden, are very different from the withdrawing of the heart from God, so severely blamed. And those who make religion no more than a pretence, to serve a turn, deceive themselves. And as those that quarrel with God, so those that think to conceal themselves from him, in effect charge him with folly. But all their perverse conduct shall be entirely done away.
The opposite of honouring God is mocking Him. “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know? You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?” (Isaiah 29:15-16) This is a clear case of mocking or dishonouring God, thinking that we can cheat Him and that He knows nothing.
To mock God is to pretend to love and serve him when we do not; to act in a false manner, to be insincere and hypocritical in our professions, pretending to obey him, love, serve, and worship him, when we do not. Anything that amounts to insincerity is mockery, anything that is only pretence, and does not represent the state of the heart. The term to mock, in ordinary language, means to dishonour.
“Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier.” (Isaiah 28:22) What is meant by this? The fact is, mocking God grieves the Holy Spirit, and sears the conscience; and thus the chains of sin become heavier and heavier. The heart becomes gradually hardened by such a process. Why should it not? Why should not the heart become fearfully hardened by such trifling with divine things? When individuals accustom themselves to say things without meaning, the effect must be that they come to disbelieve in them altogether, and their hearts become hard and callous to the invitations of the Gospel.
And not only do the chains of sin become heavier, but delusion becomes strong. Our minds become so darkened that they lose all sense of what is true, spiritual, and good, in relation to religion, the Bible, and everything else. Men become gospel-hardened by mocking God. They mock God until the truth of God cease to affect them. Their hearts have become so dead and their consciences so stupefied, that when God’s voice calls upon men to repent, it passes right by them without affecting them in the least. They will get into such a state, and their darkness becomes so great, that they think and profess they are doing their duty, when they are only mocking God by their heartless formality.
When we delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), seek Him in everything we do (1 Chronicles 16:11; Isaiah 55:6), and make choices that reflect the place He has in our hearts, we bring Him the greatest honour. Pray that God may search all our hearts that we may be mercifully kept from mocking Him lest our chains become heavier.
Let us worship God with the song “When I look into your holiness”: