“if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26
Honor – Do we really take the words of Jesus as the absolute truth? Do we dwell on them, examining every nuance? If we do, then this verse should startle us. We have long been taught to honor God, but here His own Son says that God will honor us. Can you imagine that? God, the Almighty Creator, the sustaining power of all that exists, the guarantor of justice, freedom and holiness will honor me! Do I need any other recommendation that this? Do I need any other stamp of approval? I should hope not.
“Honor” comes from the Greek word timios. Its range of meanings includes “honor, respect, reverence, esteem, act favorably toward, give rank and dignity to, reward”. Jesus knows a great deal about motivation. He recognizes that human beings are designed to achieve goals and gain recognition. The distinguishing characteristic for human motivation is why we do what we do, not what we do. It is possible for my actions to be the most altruistic, the most ethical and the most generous and I still have no part in God’s kingdom. But when I serve the Son, then the Father recognizes all my efforts and grants me His favor and reward. Its Biblical to talk about compensation, but Biblical compensation is never tied to performance. It’s tied to obedience. That’s because serving the Son is impossible without a transformed heart. It simply cannot be accomplished by doing all the right things. In God’s compensation plan, the right results without the right motive means nothing.
As fallen creatures, we have a natural tendency to measure success on the basis of performance. Meeting the sales goals, winning the championship, leading the pack, being first on the block. All that language drives us to think that God measures the same things. But He doesn’t. God’s reward plan is based on serving the Son and serving the Son means becoming like him. Remember what Jesus said about the disciple and the teacher? The disciple is not higher than the teacher. The disciple’s achievement is measured in becoming like the teacher.
God honors us when He sees His Son reflected in who we are and why we act.