A Call to Honor
Say the word “honor”, and what comes to mind? For some it is an Honor Guard for military heroes who have sacrificed all. For others it may be scenes from a Hollywood themed or old war movie. Some may even think of those who demonstrate high achievements. But few, if any, will equate it with how Christians live and treat one another. In fact looking at society today it is clear we have lost the fine art of honor. We have neither learned nor passed on the principles of honor in our homes, much less our schools or workplaces. It is a shame that we live in a society in which we show disrespect and dishonor towards others.
Yet honor is an attribute of God Himself.
God not only elicits honor, He bestows it generously on those who walk before Him in righteousness. He gives honor, which is high respect or merit, out of His great love and affection for us to bring honor back to His name. In fact, in Deuteronomy 26:17 God made a covenant with Israel to honor the entire nation if they would keep His commands. In the book of Esther, God arranges for Xerxes, a Persian King who did not know Him, to bestow honor on His servant Mordecai, an act which played a role in saving the entire Jewish population. In ancient Israel, scribes noted the godly Kings that were held in high honor by their people, as well as ungodly ones that were not. We find that honor is a prevalent theme in Scripture, with 132 mentions in the New King James Bible. Even though God admonishes us to honor, we do not often see it at work in our churches or culture today.
But this is easily remedied!
Godly honor is recognizing, appreciating and highly esteeming the value of and godly characteristics we see in someone. Honoring people for who they are or what they have done draws more of those characteristics and actions out of them. Honoring service prompts more service. Honoring integrity reinforces integrity.
Honoring is a core value at our ministry. We are grateful for the opportunities the Lord provides for Somebody Cares to impact communities across this nation and around the world. We recognize that it is the community leaders, pastors and servants of the Lord who make the impact possible. We look for ways to acknowledge and honor their servant-hearted leadership. At times this occurs at a luncheon or banquet which includes a Golden Towel Awards Ceremony. The honorees are recipients of an award to recognize the work of God in and through them. This is patterned after the principle in Scripture in which Jesus, the Ultimate Servant, washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus epitomized honor. Time and again we have seen how our efforts to bless the honorees, re-energizes their service to God.
A Lifestyle of Honor
First and foremost we are to honor God. Malachi 1:6 says we are to honor God because He is our Father. But He is so much more than that. There is no one more worthy of honor than He. We are to honor His Word, His Person and His Character so we can walk in His blessing and favor. We honor Him by giving our time and resources. We honor Him by living godly characteristics and principles, and by exhibiting the character of Christ. We must live a lifestyle of honor.
Pastor Charles Burchett of Somebody Cares Southeast Texas preached a sermon based on the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier prior to a planned trip to Washington D.C. When he actually observed the changing of the guard in person, he was deeply impacted by the display of honor at the Arlington National Cemetery. Pastor Burchett shared:
“The tomb is guarded 24 hours-per-day and 365 days per-year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry. This select group of sentinels is called the ‘Honor Guard’…Being selected to stand watch over the graves of the Unknown Soldiers is one of the highest honors a soldier in the United States Army can be granted.”
“…day or night, and regardless of the elements, the tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937. The sentinels never allow any feeling of cold or heat to be seen by anyone and they never change the way they guard the tomb, even at night when there is no one watching. The sentinels do what they do for the ones they are honoring, not for spectators or for their own personal advancement. They genuinely believe that the Unknown Soldiers deserve the very best they have to give.”
Pastor Burchett challenges us to apply the honor guard’s dedication to our own dedication to God the Father.
“Twenty-four hours a day and 365 days a year, the Lord God Almighty sits in the center of heaven. He invites men and women to receive the highest of all honors in the Kingdom of God, that of coming into His Presence to minister to Him. The disciplines of holiness and honor require wholeheartedness, dignity, perseverance, diligence, praise, humility, reverence, respect, and vigilance. Without these characteristics, no one can stand before and minister to the Lord.”
And if honor is one of God’s attributes or characteristics, we honor Him when we honor others.
- Honoring Our Parents: Exodus 20:12 and Ephesians 6: 1 tell us to honor our parents so it may go well with us and we will have long life. It is the only one of the Ten Commandments which is accompanied by an expressed blessing. In God’s plan, honor releases blessing. Honoring our parents does not end when we reach adulthood. It is a life-long pursuit. To honor them means to continue to associate with them throughout their lives; to thank them for the ways they showed love and care for the family; to appreciate the sacrifices they made for the good of others; and to speak highly of the good you see in them and more.
Susie, a long time part of our ministry, lived with and cared for her elderly Jewish father until he passed away at 91. He was a widower for many years. Susie genuinely enjoyed being with him and proudly introduced him to friends and co-workers. In his later years, he gave his heart to the Messiah, in large part because of the living witness Susie presented every day before him. God birthed such a love for the elderly in her through the years that now she has started a ministry to help other Seniors navigate their later years too!
- Honoring Widows: 1 Timothy 5:3 tells families and the Church to put their religion in practice and honor widows who have faithfully served their families and the Kingdom of God by seeing that their needs are met. The Apostle Paul goes so far as to say that those who do not care for their relatives have denied the faith. In many cultures, it is still common for elderly parents and grandparents to be cared for in the homes of the younger generation. Instead of seeing the elderly as a burden, we should recognize them as a blessing, a vast resource of wisdom and knowledge. As believers we must fight the trend in society of shuffling elderly relatives off to some forgotten facility, and bring the blessing of honoring elderly relatives back into our lives.
- Honoring the Former Generations: Leviticus 19:32 exhorts us to honor those who are older and to fear God. The two are tied together. 2 Kings 6 reports how a group of younger prophets came to Elisha, the older prophet, with their plan. The place they lived was not big enough, and they asked for his blessing and permission to build elsewhere. This younger generation was saying, “What we’re doing is unique, and what we desire to do is different. But we recognize we need your blessing.” They honored the generation before them and were blessed in their mission. This is unlike Rehoboam, who inherited King Solomon’s throne after his death. In 1 Kings 12, Rehoboam rejected the counsel and blessing of the elders and lost more than half of his kingdom.
Today it would benefit us greatly to study the origins of some of our favorite hymns and to read about the spiritual forefathers who have gone before us and paved the way.
Wisdom doesn’t come solely from successes, but also from failures. The wisdom of elders was often obtained by learning from their mistakes. Honoring those who have gone before us can save us from experiencing the same problems they did. It can be liberating for us.
- Honoring Spouses: 1 Peter 3 explains that wives should submit to their husband, which is in essence, showing them honor. It also instructs husbands to honor their wives, so that nothing hinders their prayers. In God’s plan, dishonor can hinder our prayers! Growing up, I had the privilege of seeing this kind of honor in action. My parents always spoke well of each other in public and in front of us, the kids. They handled their disagreements in private and covered each other’s faults. They spent time together in prayer and reading God’s Word, and then lived it in front of us. I am sure they faced struggles and hard times but by honoring each other even during those times, they strengthened their marriage and truly became one. It is apparent even today as God uses my parents together in their retirement years.
- Honoring Civil Authority: Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 both speak of honoring civil authority who were placed in position by God to establish order and punish wrongdoers. We recall that when godly characteristics and laws are honored it evokes more of the same. The media and special interest groups are quick to take officials to task whenever they feel something has been done wrong. We should be just as quick to offer appreciation for the good things they accomplish. During times of disaster, one group that Somebody Cares provides with hot meals and crisis counseling services, is first responders. We want so show them how much their sacrifice means to us and others.
- Honoring Employers: 1 Timothy 6:1, although speaking to bondservants in that day, should be applied to the employer/employee relationship today. Here the Apostle Paul counsels believers to count their master/employer worthy of honor SO THAT God will be glorified. This means working to the best of one’s ability, speaking well of co-workers, and having a positive attitude in the midst of each situation.
- Honoring Fellow Believers: 1 Corinthians 12:18 explores the concept that we are all a part of the Body of Christ and should honor one another for the important role God has designated each one. An eye cannot say to a hand, “I have no need of you”, just as we cannot say to another believer, “I don’t need you.” But we are admonished to not just recognize our need for one another, but to honor each other. We are even to honor those who seem to be weaker. The Apostle Paul reiterates our call to honor one another in Romans 12:10. Think of those that serve behind the scenes and call attention to their faithfulness: the family that opens their home for care groups each week, the laborers who bag groceries for the food pantry, the homeless shelter workers who continually show love to the outcast, the missionary working in a far away land and countless other unsung heroes in your church or community.
- Honoring Church Leadership: 1 Timothy 5:17 declares that those with spiritual authority that God has placed in our lives who rule well are counted worthy of double honor. Even if we don’t agree with them, we must still respect their office and the fact that God has appointed them. We remember that they are human and flawed, but we serve as unto God, and therefore, we honor them.
Who are the ones that you turn to in times of spiritual crisis? Who do you rely on for godly counsel and prayer? Who nourishes your spirit with sound teaching and care? These are the ones due double honor. They are constantly giving out to those around, but they are human too. Respect, public appreciation and encouragement renew their resolve and revitalize them for future ministry.
Scripture tells us to “not grow weary while doing good” (Gal. 6: 9; 2 Thess. 3:13). It also tells us to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,” (Heb. 10:24). Honor is one of the most effective vehicles to encourage one another and re-energize others to persevere in the good works to which they are called.
With A Grateful Heart —
Let us Give Thanks to the Father for His blessings in each of our lives. Let us also be thankful for those He has placed in our lives for their example and wisdom. Likewise, may we each impart this to one another, the encouragement, guidance and blessing needed to run the race well.
A heart of gratitude is one way we express our honor for one another. And as the Apostle Paul shared in his letter to the Philippians,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1: 3 – 6.
May we bring honor to our Father in Heaven as we demonstrate a heart of gratitude and honor first for Him and then for one another.
Copyright October 2012
Jodie Chiricosta is the Vice-President of Somebody Cares America/International.
Excerpts taken from Who’s Your Daddy Now? By Doug Stringer © 2007 – also available as an e-book.