WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 16, 2022
TOPIC: ESTEEM THE SERVANTS OF GOD BUT DON’T WORSHIP THEM
BY T. O. BANSO
“As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I myself am also a man’” (Acts 10:25-26 New King James Version).
In a vision Cornelius had, the angel told him to send men to Joppa to invite to his house Simon, surnamed Peter, lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house was by the sea, and he would tell him what he must do (Acts 10:5-6). Verse 7 says when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier and sent them to go and invite Peter.
Cornelius waited for Peter and called together his relatives and close friends to meet Peter. “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I myself am also a man’” (Acts 10:25-26 New King James Version). Cornelius then got up, and both of them talked as they went inside where others were assembled.
Christians should esteem or honour servants of God, but must never worship them. Servants of God must also teach believers that only God must be worshipped. No matter how much God is using them, they must never receive worship from any human being, including their members. Only God deserves our worship. If that day, Cornelius was just trying to honour Peter in the best way he knew, he went too far. But Peter corrected him. Servant of God, if you were Peter, would you have done that?
Also, at Lystra, Barnabas and Paul rejected being worshipped by the people. That was after Paul had told a man who was a cripple from his mother’s womb to stand up straight on his feet and he walked. “Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!’” (Acts 14:11 New King James Version).
They called Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. As if that was not enough, the priest of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to the gates to sacrifice with the multitudes. The ego of Paul and Barnabas didn’t become inflated because they were being worshipped. No. They tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out and telling them they were men like them (verses 14-16).
Servants of God must be careful not to receive the honour due to God alone even if people, due to ignorance, overzealousness, or sycophancy, try to give such honour to them. They must always wear the garment of humility. When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
According to Proverbs 29:23, pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honour. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Don’t feel too important; you’re not God. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think (Romans 12:3).
Minister of God, don’t let your members worship you. Don’t let them esteem you beyond your status as a servant of God. Paul told the Corinthians, “So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries” (1 Corinthians 4:1 New Living Translation).
Take note of that phrase: mere servants of Christ (other translations like the King James Version, New King James Version, and New Century Version use servants of Christ). Point the people’s attention to the Christ in you, not you. Let the people worship the Christ in you, which is also in every child of God.
The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus is the bridegroom; the pastor or church leader is, at best, the best man. The best man must never flirt with the bride. He must never demand from the bride the attention and honour due to the groom.
John the Baptist understood this very well. He said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30 New King James Version).
1 Thessalonians 5:13 says we should esteem highly the servants of the LORD for their work’s sake. Nevertheless, we must not be tempted to worship them, even if some are tempted to ask for it subtly or directly. Matthew 13:57 says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (New King James Version). M ark 6:4, Luke 4:24, and John 4:44 say a similar thing. Family members and outsiders should honour the servants of God but they should not worship them. This is beyond bowing down before them.
You are worshipping your Pastor or a preacher when you believe what he says above or contrary to what the Bible says. In other words, you are replacing the Word of God with the word of your Pastor! You are worshipping your Pastor when you sacrifice your commitment to the Lord or your local assembly to support him. You’re worshipping your Pastor when you stop attending your local assembly because he has been transferred, or you also transfer yourself to join him or join him to break away!
You’re worshipping your Pastor when you cause division or schism in the church because of your love for him. You may even know that his actions are contrary to the Word of God. If you don’t cooperate with or support a new Pastor because your favourite Pastor has been transferred, you’re guilty of worshipping your Pastor.
Pastors must not let Satan enter them. Satan loves to be worshipped. Before he was cast down from heaven, he didn’t want to continue to worship God. He planned to exalt his throne above the stars of God, sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north, ascend above the heights of the clouds, and be like the Most High. But God threw him out of heaven (Isaiah 14:13-15).
When he tempted Jesus, one of the things he demanded from Him was to bow down and worship him, promising to give Him the glory of the kingdoms of the world and authority over them. But Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13, replied, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Luke 4:8 New King James Version).
The holy angels of God know that worship is due to God alone, so they won’t receive human worship. When John tried that in the book of Revelation, the angel stopped him. Revelation 19:10 says, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’” (New King James Version). The same thing happened in Revelation 22:8-9. If an angel rejected human worship, what should make it attractive to any minister of God?
If people worship you, stop the practice. Don’t let them kill you before your time! King Herod died a mysterious death for receiving worship from the people of Tyre and Sidon who flattered him, shouting that his voice was the voice of a god and not that of a man. An angel of the Lord struck him, worms ate him, and he died (Acts 12:21-23).
You’re a human being, not a god. Don’t accept human worship. This will preserve you. Whatever you are – apostle, prophet, evangelist or pastor and teacher – you’re a gift to the church (Ephesians 4:8-13). The gift is not more important than the giver. “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised” (Proverbs 27:21 New Living Translation). The Easy-to-Read Version puts it this way: “People use fire to purify gold and silver. In the same way, you are tested by the praise people give you.” Don’t desire or demand worship if people esteem you. Remain humble.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I will worship You alone, not anyone else. Help me to esteem Your servants without worshipping them. Holy Spirit, help me to receive people’s honour with humility; let me never become arrogant and demand worship, not even in a subtle way.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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