“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.” (Mark Twain)
We think of “honor” the same way Mark Twain uses it. “Honor” is usually received because of a deed or position. It means to bestow esteem, dignity, and respect on a person who is of high office or who is being rewarded for something accomplished. Sometimes a thesaurus gives us help with clarifying a meaning. Synonyms for honor as a verb are: admire, appreciate, celebrate, commemorate, commend, laud, observe, praise, revere, worship, acclaim, adore, aggrandize, compliment, decorate, dignify, distinguish, ennoble, esteem, and exalt.
In 1 Peter 2:17, from this Sunday’s study, believers are instructed to “honor all” (“honor all men” in English translations). Peter isn’t limiting honor to fellow believers because in the next phrase he tells us to love the brotherhood. Peter instructs the church to HONOR EVERYONE. Now for us literalists this presents a problem, because if I hire a band to play “Pomp and Circumstance” every time I interact with someone, or start waving palm branches while bowing to said person, someone is going to call the crazy police and have me hauled away.
Perhaps the best way to view honor is to ask what’s the opposite of honor? Am I honoring someone if I disregard them? How about if I despise them? Or overlook them? Maybe I can honor all people by legitimately treating them, listening to them, regarding them, the way I want to be treated, listened to, and regarded. In the second chapter of Philippians, right before Paul launches into the emptying (kenosis) of Jesus, he tells the church to humbly regard one another as more important than yourselves. I submit that Peter wants us to do the same with everyone we meet!
I offer this old, almost proverbial, story and I hope it sparks your “umph” to treat others with dignity as it does mine! Blessings, Pastor Scott
Once there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled; when he ate he clattered the silverware distressingly, missed his mouth with the spoon as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife didn’t like the arrangement.
“I can’t have this,” she said. “It interferes with my right to happiness.” So she and her husband took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking at the table with wistful eyes.
One day his hands trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke.
“If you are a pig,” said the daughter-in-law, “you must eat out of a trough.” So they made him a little wooden trough and he got his meals in that.
These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One evening the young man noticed his boy playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.
“I’m making a trough,” he said, smiling up for approval, “to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.”
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. Then they cried a little. They then went to the corner and took the old man by the arm and led him back to the table. They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.A Grimm’s Fairytale