“Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King.”
This sounds like a punch-list given by a coach just before his/her team takes the field or court, the last few points to drive home before charging onto the court. Or maybe the words of a general before his men take the field of battle. It might be something a pastor would say at the end of a sermon, following the slumber-disrupting phrase, “Ok, if you didn’t hear anything else I have said today, hear this…”
Coaches. Leaders. Pastors. Parents. We all want to give one last all-inclusive statement at the end of our instruction, mentoring, training or parenting. Several weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity to speak to over 200 college guys about what Biblical manhood is. I wanted to use this verse, but could not remember the reference, and unfortunately, couldn’t find it in time to use. I had been looking in the back of all of the New Testament letters thinking that Paul or James had used it as their parting words. Then, as I was reading this morning, I find it sandwiched in the middle of the second chapter of I Peter! It seems like this could almost stand alone, like it should be a framed poster (I think I might print it out and put it on my office wall!). And yet Peter almost says this in passing.
You have to understand both author and audience here. Peter is the “rock” upon whom Jesus has built his church, and he is writing to the believers who have been scattered throughout Asia because of persecution. This was not a reminder: it was an encouragement. In that setting, Peter and those to whom he was writing had already made the commitment to do the hard things in the hard places. They didn’t need to be reminded. They simply needed to be encouraged, “You’re not alone. You can do this. I know it’s hard, but He is worth it!”
That being said, I think it’s worthwhile to break down this simple, powerful, succinct encouragement:
- “Honor all men.” Honor here means to respect or to regard. We take our example from Jesus. He didn’t come to earth for just those that loved Him, those that had something to offer Him in return. He came to “seek and save that which was lost”. In His words, “Its not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” We are to honor all men, show them respect, if for no other reason, because they are as much God’s craftsmanship as we are.
- “Love the Brotherhood.” This is different from honor or respect. Love is something more, and that “something more” is designated for those who belong to His family, your bothers and sisters, co-laborers in Christ. There is also a sense of oneness and unity in this statement. The “Brotherhood” should be unified, but are we?
- “Fear God.” This is so often misunderstood and misused. This doesn’t mean we are to constantly live in fear, or always be scared of “The Big Guy Upstairs”. In fact, II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” This fear Peter is talking about is reverence and recognition of who He is and who we aren’t.
- “Honor the King”. In context, Peter here is referring to the actual human authority. If we do not follow those in authority, what will others think when it comes to following our Lord? However, I think in application to our lives as followers of Christ, we can take that a step further beyond our political and legal authorities. Our lives should honor Him who is our strength and our salvation.
So as we go about our business today, let us “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King.”