If the title to this article got your attention, then it did exactly what it was supposed to do. In this article, we are going to examine the word honor and objectively determine from God’s word what it means to honor someone (2 Timothy 2:15). The word honor itself carries the idea of placing proper value or worth towards something or someone (Strong’s NT 5091). Everyone has a soul that will spend eternity in either heaven or hell (Matthew 26:31-46; Revelation 21:1-8). Because of this, we must understand the great value that every soul has!
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26). In light of this, it is no wonder that the Bible teaches in a limited sense that we are to
honor all (as in the case of Lady Gaga, etc.) because all humans have valuable souls (1 Peter 2:17). Furthermore, the Bible teaches that the Lord is to be honored (Revelation 4:11); wives are to be honored (1 Peter 3:7); kings/presidents are to be honored (1 Peter 2:17); scriptural marriages are to be honored (Hebrews 13:4); elders in the church are to be honored (1 Timothy 5:17); widows are to be honored (1 Timothy 5:3); parents are to be honored (even if they are drunkards, homosexuals, gossips, etc., Ephesians 6:2) – everyone is to be honored (1 Peter 2:17; Romans 12:10)! Having defined the word honor, how do we put this into practice and application?
Honoring someone does not mean that you must agree with, comply with, or have a close relationship with the person, his teachings, or his behavior. In fact, to truly honor someone sometimes means you have to do something they do not want you to do. Let me illustrate this by using several different biblical examples and principles. First, while the Bible commands us to honor the king, that does not mean that we follow the king in violation of God’s word (Acts 4:13-22).
We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29; at the same time, Paul understood the value of those in leadership positions: Acts 23:1-5). Second, just because we are to honor our parents/family does not mean that we never correct them or discipline them when they are wrong (such as in the case of protecting one’s family by keeping them away from the evil influences of one’s drunken parents, etc.; Matthew 10:34-39; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Ephesians 5:11). Consider the Old Testament story of King Asa in 1 Kings 15:9-14. Asa removed and banished Maachah, his grandmother, from being queen because she had made an obscene image. Asa was not guilty of dishonoring his family; on the contrary, God’s word says that he was
loyal to the Lord all his days (1 Kings 15:14). Even when it comes to an erring brother in Christ, we must still honor him (Romans 12:10; which may include withdrawing from him if he does not repent, 1 Corinthians 5:11). Interestingly enough, the word dishonor carries the idea of “not giving proper value or worth to someone” (James 2:6; etc.). If we know someone is in sin and we choose to do nothing about it, in reality we are dishonoring him (Proverbs 27:5).
While we are to honor all, we must evaluate the situation accordingly. We can honor someone in multiple ways, remembering to provide what is necessary for each situation, whatever it may be (Acts 28:10)! The way we honor each individual will depend upon each situation. Someone in sin needs to be honored by being corrected, including family and close friends (Psalm 141:5; Hebrews 12:11; Revelation 3:19; etc.). Elders in the Lord’s church who rule well and preach the word are to be counted worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Most importantly, when we honor God, we are honored by God (John 5:23, 44, 12:26). Let us make sure that we properly understand what it means to honor someone so that we can place the proper value upon each situation, providing what is necessary in order to exercise true biblical honor!