It is amazing who we honor. To show honor is to have respect. When we honor a way of life we set an example before us that we wish to imitate and even wish for those we love to share with us. The strange thing is that we often honor the least honorable of people. One of the reasons God gave the fifth of the Ten Commandments was that whom we honor determines our values and the way of life a person will follow. God declared then that we should honor father and mother that our days may be long in the land. God knew that if children honored parents they would follow their lifestyle and hold on to their values. When we show greater honor for some rock star or some athlete for a favorite team in spite of what their morals or lifestyle may be, we head in exactly the wrong direction if we would ever make a difference for good in the world. In a political season like the one we are in now, it is quite common to hear people try to justify pulling for some politician whose morals and values aren’t at all worth following. We look for ways to justify the one we vote for and find ourselves saying, “Well everyone does it and our candidate isn’t any worse than others.
Who do you hold in the highest place of honor in your life? For many the correct answer is that they give the spot for the greatest honor to themselves. What ever they do or fail to do they feel sure is the very best thing for them and others. Listen in on the conversation of this person and you will hear the words, “I”, “Me”, “My” and “Mine” often and with emphasis. We show honor to the one who has made the most money, the one who runs fastest or makes a hole in one. We honor the person who pushes others aside and shouts how right they are about everything. Often this person is sure that if they have made lots of money it means that they are the smartest person in town and others should rush to listen to what they say. Strangely Jesus spoke of people like that when he told the story of the rich farmer whose crops produced abundantly, so much so that he didn’t know what he was going to do with all the crops. His answer for himself was, “Soul take your ease, eat, drink and be merry for you have much goods laid up for you for many days.” Why did he think everything was great? Because his solution to the question of what he would do was that he would tear down the old barns and build bigger barns and tell his soul to take it easy. God answered him, “You fool. Tonight your soul will be required of you, then whose will these things be?” Jesus added, “So it is with anyone who is rich in this world but is not rich toward God.”
Who should we honor? Paul offers two answers that are significant. First in Romans 13 when he had discussed the need to show honor and respect to civil authorities since they are ministers of God sent to execute wrath on the sons of disobedience. Building on that foundation he said that we should show honor to whom honor is due. He tied that with paying taxes to whom taxes are due and tribute to whom tribute is due. In this case he tells us it isn’t ones that the world honors that we should honor but the ones who are due honor based on their life that should be honored. In I Corinthians 12 Paul described the body of Christ and how each part of the body should do their part so the body can be healthy and accomplish its purpose. In that connection he said, we show honor to the ones who need it. He used the illustration of how we dress up the parts of the body that are least honorable by covering the parts that are least honorable. His point is that we should honor those who need it rather than just to the ones who deserve it. It seems quite natural that we would honor those who deserve it but the idea of showing honor to the ones who need it is revolutionary. We help them in finding their place in the body when we help them find their place to serve.
Honor is a wonderful thing. But it needs to be given based on something deep inside the person instead of the ones who make the most, dress the best or do the most favors for those who can do the most for them. Who are the people you know that most deserve your honor and respect? Who have you put in a place of honor that really isn’t living an honorable life at all? Our children can see the ones we honor most by how we talk about the ones we honor, dress like them or efforts we go through to learn more about them. As a Christian we ought to honor people whose lives we can follow and be right with God. One who lives dishonorably doesn’t deserve our honor.
Think of some people who deserve our honor. Parents who loved us and provided for our needs and taught us how to work and take care of our families. We need to honor those who sacrificed to keep their marriage together and strong. We ought to honor the people whose moral standards weren’t just something to talk about but something to live by. We ought to honor those mothers who sacrificed their personal desires to provide the care and love their children need. We ought to honor those who have gone through mistreatment and continued to live right and praise the Lord. We ought to honor those citizens that work to provide for themselves and their family and even give to help the less fortunate. We ought to honor those who don’t just talk about their faith but live it daily.
Honor is a wonderful thing. Just be careful who and what you honor.