24“Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;"
According to the Oxford dictionary, the English definition of “honor” combines having high respect, adhering to what is right, and fulfilling one’s obligations. However, in the Bible we see many different Hebrew and Greek words translated into English as “honor.”
When we examine these original words, their rich nuances can creatively expand our imaginations as we surround a passage with all their shades of meaning. For example, when we read “Honor the Lord from your wealth / And from the first of all your produce” in Proverbs 3:9, we can imagine taking great heaping piles of our possessions as an offering to God – so much that no one person can hold it all or they would be buried under the abundance.
Or, when we read “Pray for us, for we are…desiring to act honorably in all things” in Hebrews 13:18, we can think about what it would look like for us to act in only beautiful, excellent, right, noble, commendable, and healthy ways. Researching and using different words like these can help us recognize our feelings, our thoughts, and our actions more clearly and be more open to the Holy Spirit’s loving guidance.
In Scripture, we learn that we should especially honor our parents, the aged, spiritual leaders including priests and elders, spouses, and widows. However, we are to honor everyone despite differences in capacity and dignity, even those who aren’t fellow believers. And, when we faithfully honor, serve, trust in, and rely on God, God honors us.
Of course, the demand for honor has often been manipulatively twisted by people looking to oppress those around them, and sometimes life looks warped – those who are acting right are dishonored and those who are tormentors receive honor. If you are experiencing this distortion, you may find comfort in the wisdom of Job and Ecclesiastes who talk about these absurdities in light of their relationship with God.
For further reading, see Ex. 20:12, Deut. 5:16, Lev. 19:32, Lam. 4:16, 1 Tim. 5, 1 Pet. 2-3, Rom. 12:10, 1 Cor. 12, 1 Sam. 2:30, Psalm 91, and John 12:26.
Practice: Different Lenses
Bring to mind a time when you failed to honor someone in your life. This person may be someone you know well, an acquaintance, or a stranger. Write out the story from the other person's perspective.