Cultivating a Culture of Honor

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Romans 12:10

There is a growing concerning that continues to plague our pews and that is the need for developing and cultivating a culture of honor. Honor can be described as a social term in the evaluation of one another which can include a business venture, family structure or ministry endeavor. As created beings, we are called upon to respect and revere God as the creator. If we are bearers of the image of God than there is a prerequisite to respect one another. How we honor God and those whom God has called in authority is what the apostle Paul is exhorting in the book of Romans. 

Scripture makes a number of claims in how we are to honor God and each other. There is honor in our worship (Ps. 50:23), honor in obedience (Ezekiel 33:31), honor in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20), honor with our possessions (Prov. 14:31) and honoring through the caring for others (Jas. 1:27). However, the author of Romans is dealing with the honoring of fellow believers that focuses on the relationship and character of the believer. I’ve come across many individuals who are kind from the outside but lack a genuine affection deep inside. Counterfeit honor is a character flaw that when revealed and exposed produces division among society’s culture. Jesus saw the problematic issue of dishonor (Luke 4:24) and not much has changed. Familiarity is said to breed contempt especially when that person may be in a leadership role capacity. Instead, dishonors occur when brotherly & sisterly love (Philadelphia) losses its meaning and honor becomes an extended family member. Paul here is convincing the church family that they are even closer than one’s own biological family (1 Tim. 5:1-2). Our adoption into the genealogy of Jesus directly connects us with God’s Spirit which is indeed thicker than blood relation. 

Our adoption into the genealogy of Jesus directly connects us with God’s Spirit which is indeed thicker than blood relation. 

The Old Testament root word for honor is Kabod which has a meaning of giving weight to someone or allowing the person a position of respect and even authority in your life. Sometimes we fail to recognize that honor isn’t achieved by educational merits, pedigree or accolades. Honor is an internal attitude that needs to be cultivated properly within a healthy environment and if not, it’s considered to be incomplete and just another lip service (Isa. 29:13). Admission of the fact regarding having a lack of honor is the first step to understanding true biblical honoring (Prov. 15:33). This profession of neglect opens our eyes to the beauty that is found in honor and affects every area of our lives. 

The second part of this verse, although rather clear has a duel meaning but its implications can be applied. The verb Paul uses here is the Greek word τιμή (tee-may) and means to value or esteem to the highest degree. Maybe you have a particular piece of jewelry that you value and then you put it up for sale. I’m almost positive that the sale price would be higher than the market value because you see worth in it. Paul and Apollos dealt with this sort of evaluation process in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 4). The source of any honor or stature comes first from God who imparted this to his Son (John 5:23). We also see that this honor was given to humanity by creating us a little lower than the angels (Ps. 8:5-6). This goes beyond the idiom, “give credit to whom credit is due” because the accreditation is marked by God and not through society. 

Counterfeit honor is a character flaw that when revealed and exposed produces division among society’s culture.

Hilton Hotels is a worldwide corporation that first opened its doors in 1919. Today the company has over four and a half thousand hotels in the United States alone. It’s considered one of the top leading hotel companies worldwide with a revenue of over 8 billion dollars. This is achieved through the honor program they offer to members. A regular walk-in would just receive the basic, level entry benefits that come standard in any room, but a card-carrying honor member has exclusive rights to many amenities. Even how you’re treated as an honor rewards member speaks volumes and complimentary gifts are never short on stock. Paul here is calling on Christians to outdo each other in giving honor, recognizing that those leaders have been strategically placed by kingdom authority. 

The other meaning of the verse expresses honoring above yourself in humility (Phil. 2:3). There are many in Christian circles who strive to push for first place when they’re really called to maintain second. Instead, they devalue and dissimulate the command to honor love towards one another. Yet, honor is the currency of elevation and flows from a heart that fears God. 

When we believe that we ought to be satisfied, rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves, imagine that He should submit His own honor to our advantage; we make ourselves more glorious than God, as though we were not made for Him, but He made for us; this is to have a very low esteem of the majesty of God. 

Charles Spurgeon. 

I would like to leave you with some practical applications on how we can cultivate honor in our given environment. First, honor doesn’t happen by accident but needs intentional action steps. You must be willing to cultivate honor in conversation, community, and church. That can look like speaking well of your leadership, holding the door open for others or even serving when not ask too. Honor is also mandated and the key to developing a lifestyle which allows it to germinate inwardly to everyone you come across (1 Peter 2:17). Honor must be celebrated, especially towards those who we serve and serve alongside. What are some ways that you can applaud your church or business even when you don’t see any reason to celebrate? 

When we begin to cultivate honor in our homes, churches or businesses, it reflects the character and nature of God. Honor is transmittable when the recipient is eager to show it back but can be lost through the act of disobedience and disrespect. Honor requires you to trust in God’s ability to deal with your present situation. Honor is expressed through healthy relationships. Honor is allowing your leaders to speak over you (1 Tim. 1:18-19). Honor must be cultivated and is a gift that has been given freely to you and me.

Counterfeit honor is a character flaw that when revealed and exposed produces division among society’s culture.

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