Philippians 4:8 tells us to dwell on whatever is honorable.
Maybe when you think of showing someone honor you get a picture of a Victorian woman curtseying at a wealthy land owner. Or maybe you think of a military salute while the president boards Air Force One. Or a lit candle at an evening vigil.
Honor isn’t something we see very often in the i-generation. It’s not part of our vocabulary. We have a tendency to be more self-focused and not others focused.
Let’s define honorable as something or someone worthy of honor. It’s raising up something and esteeming it. It’s attributing value to something or someone. When you honor someone, you value them.
What does Scripture say about showing honor?
We are supposed to honor our father and mother. (Exod 20:12)
We are supposed to honor the king and those in power. (1 Pet 2:13)
We are supposed to honor Christ. (1 Pet 3:15)
We are supposed to have honorable conduct among unbelievers. (1 Pet 2:12)
Clearly, the Bible has a lot to say about showing honor and esteeming what is honorable, and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Matt 15:8).” He’s addressing the fact that we can be double-faced. We can bless God with our lips, and curse him with our hearts and our actions.
He wants our minds, bodies, souls, hearts, and spirits to show him honor. Why? Because he’s worthy.
We are supposed to honor each other.
1 Peter 2:17
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Honor everyone? Wait, did Scripture really just say that? Yes, it did! Wasn’t your definition of honor that of attributing worth and value where they are due. Yes, that is our definition!
So I’m supposed to honor my enemies, honor the trash man, honor the homeless woman outside my window? Yes, yes you should.
Why? Because Jesus values them. He knit them in their mother’s womb, he left his heavenly throne, clothed himself in human likeness, and died an unjust death on a Roman cross for them. He wants their hearts in the same way he wants your heart.
If God created man in his own likeness, then every man bears a signature of our creator. He’s jealous for them. He so loved the world, that he gave his Son for them (John 3:16).
How to Show Honor
How do we show those around us that we honor and love them? It starts with seeing their value through the eyes of Christ. We see them as he sees them. We see them as who they can be: fully restored, fully alive, fully made new.
Our hearts then break for the castaway, the beggar, the drug addict, the rebel. When we see them through God’s eyes, we can’t help but mourn the image of God in them defaced by sin. He wants to set them free.
We are called to honor everyone, but we are particularly called to honor those who feed us, those who shepherd us, those who labor for us in the Lord.
1 Timothy 5:17
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13b
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
For those of us not in a pastor, elder, or overseer role, we probably don’t grasp the burden our church leaders carry. Not only are they accountable to God for their work, but they put up with more junk than you can imagine. Between preparing for Sunday’s sermons, they speak at funerals, counsel broken marriages, talk teenagers out of suicide, encourage faithful servants, admonish wayward sheep–not to mention they also have their own families to attend to.
Ways you can show honor to your pastor or ministry leader:
- Make sure they are compensated well. Some commentators believe that 1 Timothy 5:17 is referring to double honor as double pay. He then says, “A laborer is worth his wages” (1 Tim 5:18).
- Honor them with your lips. Don’t gossip about them. If you sense a doctrinal issue, go to them directly; don’t rally people to your side. Instead, prayerfully go to them in humility and point them to the Word.
- Share with them what God is doing in your life through their ministry. Your pastor and elders love you deeply and will be greatly encouraged to hear how God is using them in your life.
- Sign up to co-labor. We are all priests and ministers of the gospel. One person can’t possibly serve 500 or more. We all must help equip our fellow saints to reach our cities.
- Use your gifts. God has gifted you in a specific way to edify the church and reach the lost. He may use you to build up and encourage your pastor or church leaders.