Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (I Peter 2:17)
As I was putting away Christmas, I came upon a card from Samaritan’s Purse announcing that my friend Janet had given a donation “in my honor.” My first unedited thought was, How nice. How grateful I am that it wasn’t the more usual “in memory of.” As she later told me, at this stage in life most of us don’t need another present for which to find a place or, worse yet, to consume. In recognition of our friendship, she chose to honor me with a donation to a very worthy cause.
That word honor can be defined in various ways, ranging from to “show recognition, proper respect, to value, revere, dignify, esteem, or to glorify.” I’m quite certain my friend wasn’t intending to glorify me, but I do feel she was glorifying the Creator while affirming me as one made in His image. That loving gesture also told me something about her heart. To honor another takes a disposition of the heart that is willing to subdue one’s own sense of worth in order to elevate another. In reality, it’s taking on the attitude of Jesus:
… complete my joy by being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped … (Philippians 2:2-6)
This brought to mind an old habit I had acquired in my much younger years, one at which I was fairly accomplished – sarcasm! Sarcasm, of course, is intended to keep people at a distance, or put them in their place. While it’s self-protective, when used as a weapon, it can be extremely hurtful, diminishing the very personhood of another. As God’s Spirit continued to do His work in me, I lost that inclination to put another down or even the ability to do so. Thanks be to God!
By her generous gesture, Janet was modeling a heart-shaping, practical way to guard against our natural tendency to self-exaltation and at the same time celebrate the intrinsic worth of another. Giving the proverbial “flowers” to the living is a win-win! Honoring another image-bearer with no expectation of reciprocity does wonders for the heart of the giver, heaps blessings on the one being honored, and brings joy to the heart of God.
How will you practice honoring another today? Your husband? Someone in your family?