We said that on the most basic level, all people are to be honored, just because they are human, created by God in His image. The Bible goes on to talk about specific people upon whom we should bestow honor.
You’ve heard the statement, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and it is true. We tend to take for granted those we are closest to. We see their faults clearly, and sometimes we forget how much we love them in the midst of current difficulties. But we can train our minds and our mouths to dwell on their good points.
Other believers –
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each of us esteem [honor] others better [more] than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. — Philippians 2:3, 4
Be kindly affectionate to each other with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. — Romans 12:10
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood …. — 1 Peter 2:17
Likewise, husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; so that your prayers are not hindered. — 1 Peter 3:7
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. — Colossians 3:18, 19
Submission is not a popular topic in our day. But essentially, submission is deferring to someone else and honoring him. In the case of wives submitting to husbands, this honor is conferred by recognizing the husband’s role as head of the home and allowing him to move in the authority God has given him for the protection of the family unit. For more on how honor between the husband and wife is meant to work, see Ephesians 5:21-33. It is supposed to be a harmonious giving and receiving of honor, and when done rightly, blessing flows to all concerned.
Parents/old people – Proverbs 30:17 gives us a vivid picture of what God thinks about those who do not respect their parents: “The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Bluntly, “If you don’t want to come to a bad end, don’t scorn your parents.”
Throughout the Bible, the commandment to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long” (Exodus 20:12), is repeated time and again. Paul points out in Ephesians 6:2 that it is the first commandment with a promise attached to it – long life. Honoring our parents is important to God, not only while we are young and growing up under their roof, but also once we have reached our adult years – even when our parents are old and feeble.
Because our society has lost its respect for those who are not beautiful and full of youthful vigor, it is easy for those of us in the Church to slip into not esteeming the elderly as we ought. Yet God says, “You shall rise up before [stand up in respect toward] the white-haired head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).
Children – If we would see them from God’s perspective – who they are in Christ, what they will become as they mature, how valuable they are to Him – perhaps it would help us listen to them better and be more patient with them. We always see Jesus treating them tenderly.
Years ago, Romans 15:1 came to my attention in connection with having patience with my small children: “We, then, who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The verse could apply to anyone who tries our patience through their weaknesses or their need for care, from the very young to the very old. For me, it became a verse to help me bear the nonstop needs of my little ones.
So, children must be honored, too. We must remember that they have feelings that can be hurt deeply. We need to listen to them, encourage them, and otherwise give them time and affection.
On the other hand, indulging their every whim, not disciplining them, and giving them the same freedoms as adults when they have not yet learned to handle responsibility is a false honor that only brings destruction to their future. Genuine honor keeps things in perspective, looking at the long term goal of bringing them up into their full potential in Christ Jesus.
Next time: Honoring those in authority.