We know we should honor God. What does it mean to honor Him?
To honor someone means to respect and esteem them. The degree of honor we bestow on someone varies greatly depending on their position and achievements. For instance, the honor bestowed on a child for making honor roll is quite different from the honor bestowed on a commander for winning a war. We honor people for a variety of reasons, including their position, power, accomplishments, integrity, intellect, etc. We demonstrate honor through the attitudes, affections, and actions we direct toward the person being honored. The attitude we have toward those we honor includes regard, respect, and reverence. The affections we experience toward those we honor include admiration, adoration, or even awe. The actions we take toward those who we honor include praise, submission, and obedience. For instance, children honor their parents through their submission and obedience.
So, what does it mean to honor God? To honor God means to give Him the regard, respect, reverence, admiration, adoration, awe, praise, submission, and obedience which are due to Him. To honor God means to worship Him in all our attitudes, affections, and actions. The essence of what it means to honor God is revealed to us in what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment" (Matthew 22:37–38). Note that honoring God cannot be limited to the external performances of rituals or ceremonies. Jesus commands us to honor God with both our lips and our hearts. Hypocrites honor God with the words of their mouths but their hearts are far removed from Him (Matthew 15:8–9).
God is deserving of the highest honor (i.e. the complete surrender of our entire lives to His glory and loving service, Romans 12:1) because of both who He is and what He has done. He is our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Our very life and breath comes from God. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). All that we have, we have received from Him. All things have been made by Him and for Him. We can only honor God if we live, not for our own glory, but for His glory. He is worthy of all honor. Take for instance, God's position (Psalm 47:7), power (Exodus 15:6), accomplishments (Revelation 4:11), integrity (Isaiah 6:3), and intellect (Romans 11:33). No matter which category we choose, God is to be honored above all. The honor owed to God is perfect and infinite since He is perfectly and infinitely honorable (1 Peter 1:16; Revelation 4:8). For us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to the honor of God is no more than duty dictates (Luke 17:10).
Yet, Scripture informs us that all of mankind has failed to honor God as we should (Romans 1:21). Our sins are not only violations of God's laws, but assaults of His honor (Psalm 51:4). We demonstrate dishonor to God through our disobedience. Because of our disobedience, we live under the impending doom of death and destruction (Ephesians 2:1–3; Romans 3:23; 6:23; Matthew 25:41). But God, because of His great love for us, sent His Holy Son, Jesus Christ, who honored God through His perfect love, humility, and obedience, and died for our dishonorable sin, guilt, and shame (Ephesians 2:4–10). Through Christ's life, death, and resurrection God has made the way for us to be reconciled to Himself (John 14:6; Romans 5:10). The Father tells us that we cannot honor Him unless we honor His Son, Jesus Christ (John 5:22–23). Therefore, it is impossible for us to honor God unless and until we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that God removes the shame and dishonor which our sins deserve and credits us with the honor and holiness of Christ's righteous life. In addition, God gives us His Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us to live for God's glory and honor (John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22–23). Spending eternity glorifying and honoring God for all that He is and has done for us through Jesus Christ will be much more than our duty (Revelation 5:12); it will be our delight (Psalm 16:11).
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