A Matter of Honour
By Staff Forerunner, "Ready Answer," June 1999
This is the time of year when the calendar reminds us to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day. Millions of people take the time to honour Mom and Dad with greeting cards, a special dinner out and perhaps even a gift.A big hug and an "I love you, Mom (or Dad)" later, and it is pretty much over.Not bad gestures to the ones God used to bring us into the world. Of course, we already understand thathonouring our parents should not be limited to "their" one day each year, but should be an ongoing activity.While we are honouring parents, have we thought about "honouring" people generally—not just parents?Other societies have special words of honour reserved for the elderly. Even an older brother or sister is calledby a special term of honour in some cultures. Some peoples have a tradition of bowing to others out of respectand deference, yet we seldom see the like in our "enlightened" Israelitish countries.We live in a culture and age of dishonour. This is a time when political cartoons and editorials routinely lampoonour leaders. Turn on the radio—or maybe we should not! —and we find the AM band awash with talk showsfrom all political stripes. Their theme seems to be discussing whose reputation they wish to destroy today. Their vitriol soon infects even your upbeat attitude. Even conservative talk-show hosts are not God's messengers, butreflect the thinking of a segment of this world.So we try the TV. As we surf the channels, we cannot help catching television's equivalent of the talk show—butthis version comes with fights, flying chairs, accusations and bleeped-out epithets hurled by and at participants.The next channel calls itself "wrestling," but it's largely big-mouthed thugs dragging a potential opponentthrough a verbal cesspool. Soap operas fare no better. Even children's cartoons often reflect Satan's anger, hisfighting, and his insulting of any and all around.If we are not careful, we can begin to think and talk the same dishonouring way. Nobody is safe from attack or being dishonoured. Not the presidency, not members of congress, not school teachers or law enforcementofficers. This is an irreverent and disrespectful age. It is time to see what God says about honouring others—something very different from what the world teaches us.What Is Honour?According to the thesaurus, honour has these synonyms: "esteem, respect, pay homage to, assigning valueto." The Greek word translated "honour" in our English Bibles, timao, means "to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon;by implication, to revere" (Strong's Concordance). Showing honour, then, means treating another respectfullybecause we value them highly.So is honour due anyone? Should we put value on any man or woman, or should we honour God alone? Whatdoes the Bible say? A study with a concordance reveals just how much God has to say about honouring others.He does not limit it to honouring our parents.Romans 13:7 tells us clearly honour is due certain ones: "Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxesare due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour." That begs the questions: Towho is honour due besides God? And how do we honour others?The truth is that we will never sincerely respect, prize, value or honour anyone until and unless we start with anattitude of meekness. Honouring and respecting others will not happen when a superior or holier-than-thouattitude is present. Paul tells us to "esteem others better than" ourselves (Philippians 2:3).When we truly repent of what we are, and how we regularly fall short of God's holiness, we cannot remain in apompous mood. Perhaps we can learn from some of those who have lived God's way before us. John theBaptist says of himself: "He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Paul considers himself "the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle" (I Corinthians 15:9). He also writes thathe is "less than the least of all the saints" (Ephesians 3:8). History will conclude otherwise, but it opens awindow into Paul's thinking. When we dishonour others, it is a sure sign we are thinking of others or ourselveswrongly. We are to love others as ourselves, honouring them.