Honor To Whom Honor Is Due
Various Examples
By Paul Robison

How do we learn?  That sound like such a simple question, but there's often more to learning than meets the eye, as anybody who has tried teaching another can testify.  Someone has said that learning involves readiness, motivation, and a challenge.  In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul told those members that they were not ready yet to receive solid food or deeper instruction.  Each person's ability level to learn something is different.  The same is true for MQ.  Know you know the IQ is the intellectual quotient, but all of us also have a motivational quotient.  How badly does a person want to learn about a particular subject?  Does the person see any practicality or relevancy about what he or she is to learn?  One teacher challenged her first graders at church by asking them to tell a story by writing the setting, the main character, the problem, and the solution.  So Eli wrote the following: “The setting—I go to a church [where] I know everybody; the main character—God is very good.  I love Him; the problem—We are upstairs forever.  I do not like it.  It is too hot in this church; the solution—I know next time I should bring a hat to fan myself” (Stonehouse & May).  God had to teach Peter one time that the Gentiles could become Christians.  Remember how He challenged Peter by sending him a vision of unclean animals and ordering Peter to use those animals for food.  God did that three times, and Peter refused three times.  Then Acts 10:17 tells us that Peter wondered what was the meaning of that vision.  God had gotten Peter's wheels to turning hadn't He?  When we get people to experience something and think about it, educational folks call that active learning.  This morning, we want to look at some passages which help us to see how some men lived out some lessons that they had learned in their lives.
Our first example comes from 1 Samuel 7 where a religious reform was taking place.  Samuel had told the Jews to put away their idols to foreign gods, and they did.  Now let's read verses 5-12: “And Samuel said, 'Gather all Israel to Mizpah, I will pray to the Lord for you.'  So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord.  And they fasted that day, and said there: 'We have sinned against the Lord.'  And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.  Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel.  And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.  So the children of Israel said to Samuel, 'Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.'  [Notice something interesting here.  Samuel prayed for the Jews, and they confessed their spiritual infidelity to God.  Their enemies hear where the Jews are, and they decide to come up against them to do battle.  Now what did the Israelites do?  They don't start running to the hills, they don't start getting into battle formation, and don't rush to the ark of the covenant mentioned in verse 2.  What they do is ask Samuel to pray that God will save them.  Now why do you suppose they did that?  Undoubtedly, Samuel must have demonstrated a great prayer life.  God had revealed Himself previously to Samuel, and everyone knew that Samuel was God's prophet.  Now let's finish the story, starting with verse 9: “And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord.  Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.  [How amazing: Samuel prays, and God immediately moves!]  Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel.  But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.  And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car.  Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name Ebenezer, saying, 'Thus far the Lord has helped us!'”  Samuel's prayer got God involved, and the Philistines' attack was thwarted, and now they were on the run!  What a strong prayer warrior was this Samuel!  How had he learned such trust?
Let's notice now another example in Matthew 14:3-5: “For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.  Because John had said to him: 'It is not lawful for you to have her.'  And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.”  Here is a prophet who stood for the righteousness found in the law of Moses.  It was not unlawful for the Jews to have multiple wives, but Leviticus 18:16 prohibited a man from marrying his brother's wife, and Philip was Herod's half-brother.  Standing before a king and telling him that he was a blatant sinner is taking a great risk.  Your life could be taken or the king could make things very uncomfortable for you.  We see that Herod Antipas had John imprisoned and a little later had him executed.  It took great courage for John to condemn the king.  Jesus said that nobody born among women was greater than John (Matthew 11:11).  How had John learned such conviction, such courage, and a stand for the righteousness of God's law?
Now let's note a very interesting passage in Hebrews 10:4ff: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin, You had no pleasure.'  Then I said, 'Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.'”  Previously saying, 'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them' (which are offered according to the law), then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.'  He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  By that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Animal sacrifice could only take away mankind's sins temporarily.  Another sacrifice was needed.  Jesus became that perfect Lamb of God whose blood was slain for the remission of sins for the whole world.  The volume of book refers to the Law of Moses and its prophecies concerning Jesus.  Only the sacrifice that did God's will perfectly was the sacrifice that could not only bring permanent forgiveness but also establish a new covenant.  One commentator made this good comment: “Under Jewish law, an unclean person was cleansed or sanctified by ritualistic means before he could approach God in worship.  The idea here is similar.  Jesus offered His body on the cross, and because of this offering, men can now have fellowship with God.  In this sanctification, the will of God is of supreme importance.  Burnt offerings and sin offerings were not really the will of God—and thus Jesus had to come!  His offering was the final will of God on sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice because it was the perfect fulfillment of the divine will.  In that offering God took delight, and forgave sin” (Lightfoot).  Jesus had prayed before His death, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”  What obedience is seen in this prayer! Jesus' act of submitting to the cross also shows His obedience according to Hebrews 5:7-9: “... in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him ...”   Jesus came to do God's will, and He was the totally obedient Son.  How did Jesus learn such obedience?
Now look at Acts 12:1-3 and then be ready to turn to Revelation 1:9.  Acts 12:1-3 reports: “Now about that time, Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.  Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter.”  In Revelation 1:9, John writes: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  Jesus called James and John “the sons of thunder”, but both of these disciples drank the bitter cup of persecution.  From Acts, we see that King Herod Agrippa I had James beheaded in order to please the Jews.  James died for his faith in about 44 A. D.  He was loyal to Christ to his death.  John had been exiled by the Roman authorities to an island where offenders of the state were often taken.  He would have been treated as a prisoner, so he could write that he was “a companion in tribulation” from his firsthand experience.  John died a natural death, the only apostle to do so.  He too was faithful to Jesus right up to his aged death around 95 A. D.  Interestingly, James was the first apostle to die, and John was the last one.  How did these brothers learn to be so loyal to our Lord?
Let's now notice Acts 12:11-12 right after Peter had escaped from King Herod: “And when Peter had come to himself, he said: 'Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.'  So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.”  We are introduced to Mark here, and Mark was close to Peter.  At the close of 1 Peter, he writes in verse 13: “She who is in Babylon [probably a reference to Rome], elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.”  Mark was not literally Peter's son, but was like a son in the faith to Peter.  Paul compliments Mark in 2 Timothy 4:11 by saying that he is useful for his ministry.  This Mark wrote the second gospel, and there are many who believe that he wrote it to the church in Rome while they were being severely persecuted.  It might have been Nero's persecution in the mid-60s.  In this gospel, the word “joy” is never found.  To those living in tension under persecution, Jesus is presented as the suffering Servant of God, which Isaiah prophesied about in that famous 53rd chapter of his book.  Since God vindicated Jesus' death through His resurrection; likewise, persecuted Christians would also be vindicated in their deaths.  What a timely message!  What a heart of compassion we see in Mark!  How did he learn to be so compassionate?
Now look at one more passage, and then an answer will given to all our previous questions.  That passage is 2 Timothy 4:1-2: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”   Paul is giving Timothy a solemn command here because he calls God and Jesus as his witnesses.  Timothy is to preach God's Word.  Timothy was to be ready at all times to share that sacred message.  Think about something here.  What version of the Bible did Timothy use?  You see, the Bible was not printed back in Timothy's day, but there were scrolls.  The latest edition of the Old Testament was the translation made into Greek back in about 250 B. C.  How many books of the Old Testament and letters of the New Testament did Timothy possess while in Ephesus?  We don't really know.  The church might have had some copies.  Here's the point.  Timothy knew much of the Scriptures from memory.  Paul wants Timothy to draw from that vast knowledge that he had and to use it to strengthen the church.  How did Timothy learn to know so many passages from God's Word?
The question has been asked: “How did these great leaders of God's people learn the power of prayer, courage, obedience, loyalty, compassion, and Scriptures?  Six passages give us the key.  The first is 1 Samuel 1:10: “And she [that is Hannah] was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.”  The second is Luke 1:6: “And they [Zacharias and Elizabeth] were righteous before God, walking in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  The third is John 2:5: “His mother said to the servants: 'Whatever He says to you, do it.'”  The fourth is Matthew 20:21: “And He said to her [that is Mrs. Zebedee], 'What do you wish?'  She said to Him, 'Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.'”   The fifth is Acts 12:12: “So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.”   The last is 2 Timothy 3:15: “... and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”   Hannah was a woman of prayer, and she prayed that God would grant her a son.  God did, and she devoted her son to His service.  How often do you think Hannah reminded Samuel that he was an answer to her prayer?  Probably every year that she visited with him.  Every time Samuel saw his reflection in a pond of water, he was reminded that prayer really can make a difference and change the situation!  Samuel learned the power of prayer from Hannah.  Elizabeth was described as righteous and blameless.  She not only knew God's commandments and ordinances but also applied them in her own life, and her son, John, observed this daily.  John the prophet learned his conviction and courage from Elizabeth.  Mary told the servant to obey Jesus, and I wonder how often she might have said to Jesus: “Whatever God says to you, do it.”  Mary and Joseph were obedient people when they took Jesus to the temple and when they fled for Egypt.  Jesus learned obedience from Mary.  Mrs. Zebedee loved her sons and thought highly of them.  She wanted them to have high places in Jesus' kingdom and had great expectations for them.  She may have been presumptuous, but you can't blame her for not being loyal to her sons.  James and John learned to be loyal and devoted from their mother.  Mark grew up with the church meeting in his home.  His mother, Mary, must have been a very hospitable and sensitive person.  Mark learned some of his compassion as he watched his mother lovingly serve the saints which met in her home.  Lois and Eunice, Timothy's grandmother and mother, were the women who taught him the Scriptures during his youth.  He could preach God's Word because they had planted the Scriptures in his heart at an early age.  Timothy learned his knowledge of God's Word from Lois and Eunice.  Seven great church leaders, Samuel, John the Baptist, Jesus, James, John, Mark, and Timothy were taught by seven great women, Hannah, Elizabeth, Mary, Mrs. Zebedee, Mary, Lois, and Eunice.        
“Mothers, if you want to instill authentic faith in your children, [continue to] take your own faith seriously. … As you demonstrate your faith consistently by reading the Bible, praying, attending worship, bringing your kids to programs [and events] that help them grow spiritually, and by participating in the life and mission of the church, you will send a strong message to your children” (Brian Bill).  As you put their soul's welfare above physical concerns and their clothes, as you put their eternal life above their success in life, as you put their relationship with Jesus above their popularity in the world, as you put their standing before God above their social status, and as you put their spirituality above their intellectual, musical or athletic development, you are having more influence on your child than my sermons ever will.  After a fellow was converted, a preacher asked him what did he say to persuade him.  The man replied, “It was nothing I heard you say; it was the way my mother lived” (Ibid.).  Mothers are fantastic teachers!  Mothers understand readiness, motivation, and challenge.  “We want to applaud you mothers who take the task seriously of making a spiritual impact in the lives of your children.  As Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed…”  We stand up this morning and call you blessed.  Thank you for pouring your lives into ours” (Ibid).
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”  Mary's advice still holds true.  Jesus offers us His wonderful words of life.  His teachings provide us with an abundant life!  He says to us: “Repent of your past sins, be immersed in the name of My Father, Myself, and the Holy Spirit, continue learning My teachings, and be loyal to God and Me for the rest of your life!”  That is what He says.  Now, will you do it?  Obey Him this very moment as we stand and sing ….