How can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?
I. THE NATURE AND EVIL TENDENCY OF AN UNDUE REGARD TO REPUTATION.
1. There is a proper regard which is useful and laudable. This Samuel and Paul had. We may value it —
(1) As a test of our own character, and as an instrument for doing good.
(2) But in a moderate manner, and
(3) Not as the main motive of our conduct.
2. There may be an undue regard in cases in which the opinion of the world seems to be entirely despised. An affectation of singularity, a contrariety to the maxims and conduct of the world, may spring from a desire of reputation.
3. In general, however, it is by the dread of singularity that this undue regard is evinced. We are anxious to follow the world. The evil of such a principle is great.
(1) It robs God of His proper glory.
(2) It is base and mean, therefore, and further because it is but the love of self.
(3) It is highly prejudicial to others. For it will induce us to flatter them in order that they may be pleased with us.
(4) It fails of its object. The world is a hard master. "Them that honour Me I will honour, but they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed."
II. THE NATURE AND EXCELLENCY OF SEEKING THE HONOUR THAT COMETH OF GOD.
1. Its nature and advantages. The man who is guided by this motive —
(1) Sets God ever before him as his supreme Lord whom he is bound by every obligation to obey.
(2) He learns to attach little value to human approbation.
(3) He obtains peace, and(4) The time is coming when he will enter upon eternal honour, while those who act from the opposite principle will be rewarded with shame and everlasting contempt.
2. Its excellence. It is —
(1) Pure, unalloyed by any mixture of imperfection, and consists of regard for a Being infinitely pure.
(2) Simple, because it has but one end in view.
(3) Noble, because its end is the glory of God.
(4) Fixed and permanent. The tastes of men vary, but the will of God is unchangeable.
(5) Always productive of peace and happiness.
III. THE CONNECTION OF THESE PRINCIPLES WITH A READY RECEPTION OF THE DOCTRINES OF CHRIST. AS the understanding is biassed by the affections, it follows that when the love of reputation operates the mind is predisposed to believe that system which is fairest in human estimation. The man who follows the world has nothing to do with principle or truth. He is a slave to those whose opinion he courts. It is not to a character like this that it belongs to pursue the calm investigation of truth or to suffer for it. This requires independence and unselfishness only imparted by the influence of some great principle, such as a supreme desire for the favour of God. Hence Nicodemus, Joseph, Nathanael, Zacchaeus, etc., were already disposed by the fear of God to embrace the gospel, while in the Pharisees, whose religion was vanity and whose hearts thirsted for applause, rejected it.
(J. Venn, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?