A brother in Christ is having a birthday this coming Sunday. His wife has planned a surprise party to be held in the church building after the evening worship. She has asked that we should all write a message to be included in an "honoring note" to her husband. The preacher is collecting these messages of "love, respect, and appreciation" and urging us to respond as soon as possible. I am having a terribly hard time with this, not because I don't appreciate and love this brother, but because first, I believe a birthday party in the church building isn't scriptural, and second, the idea asking the congregation to send "messages of honor" is, for some reason, giving me a very uncomfortable feeling. It seems like I've read about paying honor to men somewhere in Bible but can't find it. Am I passing an unrighteous judgement? Please help! I don't know what to do. The honoring messages are due within the next couple of days. I explained to the preacher that attending the party would violate my conscience and he understands, but thought maybe we should "study about it" sometime. Now I'm faced with the "honoring note" problem and whether or not it would encourage continued use of the building for social functions (there is already a potluck in the building every month, which I do not attend). Thank you.
Answer:There are passages which state we should not forget those who because of the duties they perform on our behalf benefit us.
- "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct" (Hebrews 13:7).
- "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves" (I Thessalonians 5:12-13).
- "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:1-4).
- "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me" (Philippians 2:29-30).
- "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages"" (I Timothy 5:17-18).
- "Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches" (Galatians 6:6).
In doing this we are not elevating men. The focus is on the work done.
I agree that holding a birthday party at the building sends the wrong message. So why not simply send a birthday card directly to the brother? Nothing says you have to do as the rest to be respectful of a brother, and in this way you are being kind while not violating what you know of the Scriptures.