If you have been around me at all, you have probably been called sir or ma’am. I was talking with a colleague just the other day and I answered the phone, “yes ma’am how can I help you?” Her response was, “first you can not call me ma’am, it makes me feel old.” I went on to explain that it was not meant to call her old, but simply how I was raised and its a term that I use even for my little sister.
I then thought about why that term was so prevalent in my life. I was raised by my parents and even my teachers in my small hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina (right in the middle of the south) to use these terms when speaking to anyone older than I was. Well as a child, that was pretty much everyone. But these terms were to show honor and respect to those older than I was. So even though I may not have known it at the time, my parents were teaching me the same thing that Peter tells us in the New Testament.
1 Peter 2:17 – “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”
Honor is Deserved its Decided
In other words, there is nothing that someone else can do to “get” honor. Honor is given by others, it is given by you. Think about who you honor (or dishonor) each day. Honor is also not something that we should be “picky” about giving out. Look at the verse above, “Honor Everyone….Honor the emperor” there are no stipulations here, it doesn’t say “honor everyone that you are friends with”, or “honor the emperor if you voted for him.”
Honor is About Receiving the Authority Above You
Have you ever seen a young person that could care less about authority? Maybe this person doesn’t listen or pay any attention to those above him/her that have more wisdom. The benefit of honor is for that young person, not for the elder. Those who we honor get nothing out of it, if you think about it. The real benefit comes to the one giving honor. It humbles us to a point where we are able to receive the blessing and authority of those above us. Even though it is hard to honor those that we may not believe the same things as, or those we do not trust, it is still biblical to honor them and show them respect and love just as Jesus would have had he been here right now.
Application: How do you show honor to others?
After thinking about this and talking about it a good bit in a great small group of guys this week (much of this content is thanks to them and one of my great Pastors, by the way), I have narrowed this down to a couple of simple ways to show honor.
1. LOVE in order to Honor – Simply put, God calls us to love one another. Honor is a by-product of love. Jesus calls us to love everyone, and even goes so far as to specifically call out our enemies (Matt. 5:44). So love those who you should honor, and love the things they love.
2. VALUE in order to Honor – Make a concerted effort to put value on those people and things above you. If you value someone or something, you will honor it as a result. But sometimes you have to put forth an effort to value something or someone. Jesus did it with Zacchaeus (Luke 19) and the woman who touched Him in the crowd (Matthew 9). So show value to those who you should honor and put value on the things they value as well.
I go back to the very simple statement that Peter made…”Honor Everyone.”
When in doubt…Honor.