In our modern lives we see a lot of boasting. Some is blatant, and other forms are more subtle. But what we don’t see as much of, is true honoring of another person.
People tend to gravitate toward people that are like themselves. This is how cliques are formed. There are a number of social divisions that are formed that are not often crossed. Young and old. Rich and poor. Popular team sport kids and more reserved intellectual kids. White collar and blue collar. But if you ‘honor’ someone who is like yourself, is that really honor? Or are you really honoring yourself because of the similarity? For instance, if someone were to publish widely their kids’ accomplishments, isn’t that kind of like honoring yourself, for making them possible? Some of this is just normal human celebrating, but habits of boasting can definitely go too far.
What about parents and elders? Do we celebrate them the same way as we would our kids or certain peers that we want to build alliances with? After all, few people can take credit for their parents’ accomplishments. There are cases of terrible parents — but in many cases — we owe about everything to our parents who brought us into the world and brought us up.
I have gone to several 50-year anniversary parties over the years. Two of them were thrown by adult children who weren’t even married at the time. One of the party throwers had never married his life partner following an initial divorce to the mother of his adult child. Similarly, the other had a grown son from a relationship, was divorced from a marriage to someone else, and didn’t have a great track record in dating selections. But even though they weren’t alike in this accomplishment with those they honored, each took the time to honor their beloved parents. The one man said he would never achieve what his parents’ achieved. He had taken them on a cruise and then the party was to be a surprise. It was sweet and touching. This recent anniversary party I went to was fun with food, celebrating memories, playing games, and old friends connecting and visiting. The tone was set in a perfect, natural way.
We should think about those things more. While reciprocity is important in friendship – do we do what we do for quid pro quo purposes and to gain advantage or admiration? If I had been married 24 years, and ‘honored’ someone who had been married 25 – is that an amazing thing? Probably I would expect an equal honor the following year. Or if hypothetically I had 4 kids, and publicly ‘honored ‘someone with 5 — would that be some kind of a stretch for me? Really, it can be a kind of way of putting down people who aren’t in that situation for whatever reason.
I love picking up patterns of behavior in the Bible. What did Jesus do when it came to honoring others?
- Jesus was morally pure and perfect — but he honored the sincere honor and true hospitality afforded by a woman of disrepute, and not the Pharisee who hosted him poorly. (Luke 7:44, Luke 10:42)
- Jesus was a Israelite, a Jew and a descendant of David — but he chose to honor the faith of a Gentile – the Roman Centurion. (Luke 7:1-9)
- Jesus was the Creator of the universe and of unlimited riches and power — but he pointed out and honored the generosity and pure devotion of a poor widow who no one else noticed. (Luke 21:1-4)
Jesus took the time to honor those who were not like himself. Jesus taught a different way. Jesus showed how to be truly perfect – perfect in love.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. –Matthew 5:43-48
On earth, Jesus modeled servanthood, specifically in following His example. Christ’s disciples certainly did do that – they learned this lesson both in living for Christ and the many who died for him as martyrs. Here Paul, who was later martyred himself, speaks to the young man Timothy that he mentored. Who did Paul honor? He put on personal humility and meekness, and he honored Christ.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
-I Timothy 6:11-19