I just watched as a group of middle aged business men, first class passengers, moved to the side of the line to let two young military service men get to the front of the line. No one told them they had to, it wasn't requested by the airline, the older men simply chose to display honor to the younger for their sacrifice.
To be honest a few tears welled up in my eyes as their humility and honor unexpectedly touched a place deep in my heart. It was encouraging, it was inspiring, it was a personal living example of the Kingdom.
The subject of honor is one of emphasis in my church. It's a topic that over the last few years has infiltrated every part of my way of thinking. Admittedly sometimes by invitation others perhaps by brain washing (teasing, sort of).
Unfortunately living out honor in its most Kingdom sense is way easier to talk about than it is to do. If you don't believe me take a real hard look at John 13. Jesus the King, the Son of God, the Savior, washes the feet of His betrayer. If we become too familiar with the story it becomes insignificant. If you take a moment to put the face and name of someone who hurt you in front of you and envision stooping below them to wash their feet, it becomes a little more real. I'll never fully comprehend this level of honor or this level of betrayal. How does He wash the feet of anyone, HE'S THE SON OF GOD, much less the very one who handed him over to endure a brutal crucifixion all for a little money?
We've probably all washed someone's feet at some point. I've washed the feet of pastors I loved and admired, I've washed the feet of my students I was called to serve, even peers and friends when I felt impressed by the Lord, but someone who was willing to let me die? All together too mind blowing for my comprehension, but I see a standard here that would be foolish to overlook.
If Jesus could wash the feet of His betrayer, could I in my own short comings learn to serve those and even honor the ones whose mistakes caused me pain? A pain that undoubtedly was nowhere near as severe as what He endured? Is it possible that I could encourage them, bless them, serve them, even stoop below them to wash the dirt off their feet? In today's society it is likely that God won't ask you to literally "wash their feet" (don't put it past Him) but highly likely He'll bring you face to face with those that have hurt you. Not only will He often bring you near to them, He'll ask you to honor them, serve them, and love them.
I recently was reflecting on some advice from a father in the faith when he spoke to me and said, "Jessika if you want to make a difference on the earth and grow into the person God has called you to be then get comfortable being uncomfortable, in fact, invite God to make you that way."
I recently read the book A Tale of Three Kings. The entire book focuses on the life of David, specifically his life of honor. I highly recommend it, so I'm including the link to take you to it on amazon.
A young boy anointed king by God. Overlooked by man, but Chosen by the One. He waits years as God prepares him for the throne. As time was nearing the man who had been a father figure, his leader, his king, the one who he was appointed to follow began to turn on him. He even attempted to murder him, but David refused to lay down his honor. When given the opportunity to return evil for evil, he chose honor. Mind blowing. Read the book. You'll weep.
We could give examples all day of honor being taught as a primary value for the Kingdom. Jesus Himself went out of His way to honor those that the world would deem undeserving. It stabs the enemy when we exhibit honor even when everyone around us would say it's unnecessary. Maybe that person who hurt you doesn't deserve it, but was earning it ever part of the qualifications?
Sure you can honor your friends, your leaders who love you, those who think like you, but can you honor the least of these? The one who didn't vote like you? The one who hurt you? The one who can do nothing for you? Can you honor the perpetrator even in the midst of their desires to do you or others harm?
Ouch. It rubs me a little wrong too. It sounds great in a sermon, but let me tell you it's far from easy to execute. One of the core values that we often talk about is "Honor Affirms Value". In other words, I don't honor people because they've done something right or wrong, but because they're a person and that makes them valuable. A price was paid for them by the One I love, so He says they're valuable, therefore I will honor them.
This gets difficult when our emotions are involved. Can you honor a president, pastor, teacher, leader, boss, when they seem to stand against everything you believe in? David did. Can you honor a person when they've hurt you, lied about you, betrayed you, and don't seem to show any repentance? Jesus did. Can you honor a friend when they were supposed to stick by your side, but given the opportunity to stand up for you they denied even knowing you!? Jesus did.
Let me encourage you honor was never intended to be reserved for the deserving. It's not just for those with a title, those who earned it, or those who we know will show it in return. We're called to honor people affirming their value.
Honor might stretch you. Maybe it should be a little uncomfortable. Perhaps Jesus wanted it to demand you to run back to the throne room. It's highly likely that He knew when he asked me to honor and serve not just my pastor but my enemy that He knew I'd constantly have to be going back to Him crying out for the capacity to love like He does.
Maybe you honoring others isn't just about what it does in them, but what He is doing in you.
So I encourage you. There will always be those people around you that are so easy to honor. It's not usually difficult for me to honor my pastor, my spiritual parents, my friends, my boss, but there are times God is asking me to extend honor to people who I find so undeserving. When you're in that situation, run to Him, ask Him what it looks like, ask Him how to honor. For some He'll take you face to face and ask you to love and serve, for others He may just be asking you to begin praying and speaking blessing over their life. No matter what it looks like for you, be sure you don't choose to dishonor. Don't speak negatively of them, curse them, or refuse to be sensitive to what God is saying about them.