19 Mar Is it really that weird to show honor?
1 Peter 2:15-17 NLT
15 It is God’s will that your honourable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.
Many years ago I had some of my son’s friends from school over at lunch time and I happily made them lunch. As I laid the plate in front of them I hear nothing. This is strange as I am unfamiliar with a silence in such a situation. Either the food looked really bad or … Not that I needed to hear anything for my sake. But it disturbed me for the sake of these children. I held the plate back and in my best Dutch said “What do you say?” I think they were a little taken back by my forthright manner as I fished for a ‘Thank you’.
In recent years western societies especially have attempted to correct a few inequalities in certain areas. For example, opportunities for women in the workplace is now getting closer to how it should be than it was a few decades ago.
However, the ‘right to equality’, if not handled carefully can lead to a loss of respect, where we no longer use titles or manners. Children referring to their teachers by their first name, people campaigning for ‘rights’ that really are actually privileges that should be earned. Fighting for dignity by fighting for ‘rights’. But dignity is never gained by what we are given, but by what we give.
Taken to an extreme if we lose all sense of the giving of honour and respect we lose all sense of personal dignity, the very thing we were all fighting for to start with by moving toward greater equality.
Personal dignity comes from behaving in an ‘honourable way’. When you have sacrificed your rights for someone else’s benefit, when you have gone out of your way to lift someone else up, when you have shown respect to another, and given honour you actually restore your own personal dignity.
It is an honourable thing to show honour.
To honour means :
– I am thoughtful with what I say
– I complement them whenever I can
– I pay
– I am positive to others about them
– I let them go first
– I correct slowly, lovingly and with understanding – I seek for opportunities to make their life easier
Now filter this through Peter’s advise that we should be showing respect to everyone and we have a benchmark right here by which to live life.
Showing honour is honourable. It does not belittle you to honour another, it is of great credit to you.
It is worth at this point making a distinction between trust and respect.
Whilst trust has to be earned, respect is given. So whilst we should not immediately trust a boss who is behaving badly in the workplace, we can show him/her respect, both for the position they hold and for the fact every human being deserves to be shown respect. That is not to say every human being should be trusted, rewarded or go without discipline if warranted for behaviour that is unacceptable.
If you have ever had a parent treat you in any way in a degrading way, or a boss, or any other person, it is right that you are cautious with your trust. If you continue to blindly trust someone who has abused your trust, that will not be helpful to you or it will make you undiscerning with the decisions you make. However, if you show caution you have a better chance of rebuilding that relationship healthily.
However, as much as they have abused your trust, you can show respect. Respect in how we speak to them, how we treat them. Showing such respect requires a certain level of inner self-control and self-worth, it builds a strength in us that leads to dignity and honour being shown to us. After all what we sow is always what we reap. This principle never fails us! But it doesn’t just build dignity in us; when we show respect we build dignity in them, giving them the potential to overcome their own flaws for the future.
So why don’t we see more honour and respect? Because on the surface it seems contrary to the need of the moment :
Showing respect when I am treated badly
Showing respect when I don’t like them
Showing respect to someone who has disappointed me And we could go on
Our natural response maybe to retaliate, to hold back our support, to be distant and unavailable, to hold a grudge, to be slow to forgive and we could go on.
Right here lies the importance then of doing exactly the opposite. The alternative damages us and them at the same time. We do not help bring strength to our world, our relationships or our soul by doing what might be our first instinct, but rather by living our God-nature – to show honour, to forgive, to respect, to seek to build bridges, to be peacemakers, to be proactive in blessing, giving, and respecting.
Who can you show some honour to today?