Honor is a topic that we find discussed throughout the entire Bible, and it is of great importance to God and our walk with Him. The dictionary defines honor as: "honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions." To honor someone is to hold him in high respect or to treat him with honor. God wants us to honor those who are in positions of authority, because they are representatives of God's ultimate authority over all. But honor goes beyond just people with authority over us. We are to honor all people by treating them with dignity and respect. "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor" (1 Peter 2:17).
What does the Bible teach about honor?
The Bible instructs us to honors our parents. The first time this is mentioned is in the Ten Commandments: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). This command is repeated throughout the Bible and is specifically referenced again in the New Testament by Paul (Ephesians 6:2–3).
Employers and employees are instructed to show honor in their treatment of each other. Employers are to treat their workers "justly and fairly" (Colossians 4:1). Employees are told: "Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Colossians 3:22–23). Both are to treat the other with dignity and respect, honoring one another with honest dealings in work and compensation.
We are also commanded to honor our church leaders and government officials, by praying for them and respecting the positions that they hold: "… I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1–2; see also Romans 13:1–7). Church elders and teachers are to receive a double portion of honor: "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).
Above all else, the Bible makes it clear that we are to honor God and give Him the glory due Him forever (1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 5:13). We should honor God in every area of our life: our actions and words (Colossians 3:17), treatment of others (Proverbs 14:31), physical bodies (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19), money and possessions (Proverbs 3:9), and marriages (Hebrews 13:4). How we honor others is a reflection of how we honor God.
One thing we can clearly see through these Scriptures is that honor does not only benefit those we are honoring, but it has benefits for us as well. God honors us for honoring others: "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him" (John 12:26). As we honor God, He honors us, but He may not honor us in ways that the world would consider to be honor such as status, wealth, and recognition.
Jesus is our example of how to honor others and we are to walk as He did: "… By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked" (1 John 2:5–6). We are to honor God in all circumstances, even when our earthly "reward" involves persecution: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Honor is a reward for our righteous living, humility, and faithfulness to God (Proverbs 21:21; Proverbs 29:23). We can be confident that God sees our honorable living and will reward us for it in His timing: "The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life" (Proverbs 22:4).
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