Last time I said that if we wish to receive honor, we must first give it – first to God, and then to other people.
When asked which was the great commandment, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). God always comes first, but the second great commandment is to love one’s fellow man as oneself. Giving honor to others is part of fulfilling this command.
We honor people on different levels and for different reasons. The most basic place to start is in honoring all human beings — no matter who they are, what they look like, what they’ve done, and whether we agree with them or not – just because they all are God’s creation, made in His image. 1 Peter 2:17 says to “Honor all men ….”
I think we’ve got a lot to work on at this basic level. Respect for others just because of their human status has really been lost in our culture, and the Church isn’t doing much better with it than the world around us. We seem to think that if people hold a different viewpoint than ours, or if they indulge in certain sins, that it’s OK to revile them, whether in our outward speech or in our heads. But scorn is not a virtue. “Blessed is the man who does not … sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).
I’m not saying that anything goes, or that we are to tolerate everything. We can recognize and oppose wrong thinking and wrong behavior – but in the process, we must treat people with respect and tact. Probably the primary reason that we have not had great success in reaching the lost is because we have not honored them. To honor is to love. Perhaps we’ve been too busy looking down our religious snoots to be able to see them as Jesus sees them — valuable, potential-filled, love-worthy beings. We sometimes forget the muck that we ourselves have come out of and the grace that was given to us in our early days in Christ.
When being right is more important to us than respecting those who may be in the wrong, we are eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than the tree of life. It got Adam and Eve into big trouble, and it still gets us into trouble today.
Next time we’ll bring it down to some nitty-gritty details of honoring others.