Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 21, 1967
NUMBER 33, PAGE 9-10a

Four Good Admonitions

Donald R. Givens

In I Peter 2:17 we have four plain and pointed admonitions from the inspired apostle Peter which set forth the sum and substance of our duty to God and to man. It would be difficult to find a passage which includes more meaningful phrases than this one. It states, "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." So much is said in so few words. These are short sentences which are long on meaning.

In this article, we want to take these serious commands and analyze and apply each of them.

Honor All Men

This admonition is universal in application. It says to honor, not certain men, not some men; but rather all men. The term "honor" means to "esteem, regard, and respect." Each person must be respected for the dignity that he holds as made in God's image.

Now, man is capable of the greatest heights; but he is also capable of the lowest depths. We use the expression that some people "act and behave like animals." But to refer to some people as acting like animals is truly an insult to the animal kingdom! Animals have more self-respect and decency than do some human beings. This is because some people have failed to esteem or regard themselves as made in God's own image. Man has degraded himself. He has lost self-respect, self-control, and thus his behaviour is lowered below the level of the beasts. Until man begins to honor himself as being made in God's image and recognizes that he is God's creation, he will continue to degrade and demoralize himself.

Mankind is the object of Divine compassion and love (John 3:16). For all men Jesus died. For all men, Jesus gave up the glories of heaven and became a man, suffered and died so that we might live. For all men Christ conquered the grave. Now, it is the responsibility fo each individual to recognize his worth in God's sight and to begin preparing himself for his eternal destiny. The greatest honor which you can perform to another is to teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Love The Brotherhood

Peter is here speaking of the care, concern, and love we should manifest toward the church, which is the family of God. Human families should be bound closely in love — how much more so the spiritual family. All Christians have the same Heavenly Father; we are in the same spiritual family, and are traveling the same pathway to the same heaven.

It is an amazing thing that some Christians think that they just "cannot get along" here on this earth...but then they expect to go to the same heaven and live together ages without end.

We have "love for the brotherhood" when we are genuinely concerned and working for the advancement of the cause of Christ. We do our part with prayers, money, and time to help spread the glad tidings of salvation. Those who would encourage and cause division in the brotherhood by introducing human projects or organizations which are outside the authority of Christ are not practicing love for the brotherhood.

Those who would promote strife and jealousy do not love the brotherhood. These are in love with their own ideas, and are not lovers of the truth. (It reminds one of the animosities between certain brethren in one congregation who were always "at each other's throats." As one half of the congregation sang, "Will there be any stars in my crown?" the other half would sing: "No, not one; no, not one.")

How much brethren could accomplish if they would only unite in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, (Eph. 4:3).

Then there are some so in love with themselves, that they cannot truly love the brotherhood. One pioneer preacher relates this story which illustrates our point:

-In my boyhood I knew a woman who was a member of my own home church. She was always just ten minutes late to each service. She had a reason for being late, for her entrance into the house of the Lord was timed to the minute. Promptly ten minutes after the service began she would enter the door, and with great display and pomp she would be ushered to her seat. I sat with the crowd of somewhat irreverent youngsters who had given her a nickname. We did not need to turn our heads to know that she had come. We could hear her; we could instinctively feel her presence. The name given to her, therefore, was "Old Sister Grand Entry, - for her greatest ambition was to make a big show of her entrance in the meetinghouse. She had one favorite passage of Scripture, -Study to show THYSELF..." She never finished the verse, for her constant endeavor was to show herself." (-The Four Biggest Fools," sermon by Jesse R. Kellems, in the book "Resurrection Gospel," p.336)

Yes, I am afraid that "Old Sister Grand Entry" has some modern-day descendants. Perhaps not in the same category, but nevertheless some who are in love with themselves and what they would like. But genuine love of the brotherhood means that we will have care for its spiritual well-being and scriptural advancement (Phil. 2:1-4).

Fear God

To fear God means to "reverence, respect, and worship" Him. He is our Father, our Creator, and the Object of our worship, love and devotion. His will must reign supreme in our daily life.

We fear God by respecting His Word which is our sole guide. We fear God by respecting His authority and by yielding to His will in all matters.

If one is not taught fear for God, he will usually have no respect for others, for himself, and for any laws. But when we have proper respect for God's supreme authority, we will also respect the authority of parents; the laws of the land, and achieve true happiness. "This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (Eccl. 12:13)

Honor The King

Here is a very important command frequently violated by modern man is our day of "civil disobedience." This admonition means to respect civil government for that which God ordained it. It is appointed of God (study all of Romans 13:17). Civil laws and government are for the purpose of protection and punishment. They are a "terror to the evil work and not to the good." They are "ministers of God to thee for good." They "bear not the sword in vain" and are "avengers for wrath to him that doeth evil." And the conclusion is that "ye must needs BE IN SUBJECTION."

The only possible time civil law could be disobeyed is when it CONFLICTS with God's laws, (Acts 5:29).

We must respect the king, honor the officials of government for the office which they hold. They wield power by God's permission as Jesus told Pilate (John 19:11). "Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake." (I Peter 2:13) God expects His people to be obedient to the laws under which they live; and the motive which prompts such obedience is "for the Lord's sake."

Carefully consider Paul's admonition to Timothy: "I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men? for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity." (I Timothy 2:1, 2) If we would spend more time in honoring and in praying for "the king and all that are in high places," than we do in complaining and murmuring about them...then we might have better kings," and better governments.

This is our four-fold duty. These good admonitions will lead to a happy life here and joy in eternity. Put them into practice.

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