We are to “give honour to whom honour is due” (Romans 13:7). Ha! That is SO un-cool in today’s western culture. Rabid individualism and contempt for authority have bred a culture where it is obnoxious to have to give anyone respect, honour or special place.
This is not to say that it isn’t done and that in various aspects of western society it may be done well, but among many within current western culture it is not done at all. Rebellion, scorn, independence, cynicism and similar attitudes mitigate the ready giving of honour to others.
So let’s take a closer look at what the Apostle Paul instructed us to do:
“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Romans 13:7
Christian’s know that one of the Ten Commandments is to honour our mother and father (Exodus 20:12). We also know that there is a blessing which goes along with that commandment.
“Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12
There is a promise of longevity attached to this commandment to give honour. So ‘giving honour’ is something which demands at least some serious attention.
The Apostle Paul quoted this commandment, giving it special relevance to the behaviour of children. He notes that there is a ‘promise’ attached to the giving of honour in line with this command.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise) That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” Galatians 6:1-3
Unfortunately for modern Christians Paul’s reiteration of this command has skewed its application toward children, and not to the rest of us.
So I want to re-focus your attention on ‘giving honour’. I think it’s much more important than most western Christians assume it is in their daily lives.
What does giving honour look like? Many years ago when Dr Harold Dewberry was staying in my home, I asked him to pray for some health challenges we were facing. Harold is a remarkably perceptive man, in particular with use of the gift of Word of Knowledge. I have been amazed at times with the profound accuracy and effect of his use of this gift in counselling. However, in praying with us, Harold didn’t seem to get any particular revelation.
Then, after spending a good amount of time praying with us, Harold asked me a question. He asked, “Chris, do you honour your father?”
I was caught off guard. I really did not have any clear reference point on the subject, to understand the giving of honour to my father, and so I could only guess at whether I did or not. I was not conscious of giving my dad honour, nor was I conscious of denying it to him. When I explained my inability to answer clearly Harold advised that he felt prompted to ask the question, but he also did not have any particular wisdom on how to be certain that honour had or had not been given.
As soon as I could after that, I organised a series of meetings for my dad to teach. I guessed that promoting my dad’s ministry was one expression of giving honour.
Now, let me ask YOU the question. Do you give honour to your father? Do you know how to measure the level of honour you give or don’t give? By what evidence can you prove that you do or do not give honour?
My guess is that most western Christians don’t have clear answers to those questions. My guess is you’ll like to know what I am coming to understand on that topic. Keep an eye out for a post I’ll do in the next week or so, where I will share my emerging understanding. By the way – the application of ‘giving honour’ goes beyond how we respect our dad. It impacts how spouses treat each other, how Christians treat each other and how we function in the broader community.