By John Bevereve
Honour – a rare virtue that holds the power to move us and yet it’s one many of us seldom experience. We see it in movies and are inspired by the characters’ courage and self-sacrifice. We read about it in the Bible and we sometimes catch glimpses of it in people we may know, or even ourselves. Yet it seems foreign that honour can be lived in our every day, ordinary lives. Honour needs to be restored in our lives because it is the essential key to receiving from God. It is for this reason that the enemy of our souls has all but eliminated the true power of this virtue. Honour carries with it great rewards; rewards God desires you to have. Honour has the power to greatly enhance your life and you have the opportunity to learn lessons that many only stumble upon later in life. This is why John urgently said: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.” 2 John 8
Honour from the heart
To fully understand what honour is, it is useful to look at some definitions. The Greek word for honour is time (pronounced tee-mee) which literally means ’a valuing’. When you speak of the word time to a Greek man he thinks of something valuable, precious and weighty. Other definitions of honour include appreciation, esteem, favourable regard and respect. The opposite of honouring something or someone is to treat them as common, ordinary and menial. The strongest form of dishonour is to be treated shamefully and to be humiliated. Honour can be displayed in action, word and even thought; but all true honour originates from the heart. This is why God says: “In as much as these people draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” Isa 29:13. True honour is an outflow from a heart that fears God.
The Honour Principle
Throughout Scripture there are examples of those who honoured God and those who dishonoured Him. Those who honoured the Lord always received a just reward. As He says in 1 Sam 2:30: “Those who honour Me I will honour, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” This can be called ‘The Honour Principle’ – those who honour God will be honoured. This is clearly demonstrated by the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with an expensive bottle of perfume. It was equivalent to a year’s wages for the average working man, and she honoured Jesus by lavishly anointing Him. Many were appalled by her behaviour, but Jesus answered: “Let her alone; why are you troubling her? She has done a good and beautiful thing to Me…and surely I tell you, wherever the Good News is proclaimed in the entire world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9. Many did great things in the days of Jesus, but none were honoured in this manner or to this degree. Her desire was to honour Jesus, but this outpouring of anointing also positioned her to be honoured by Him.
The only way to walk in true honour is to first and foremost always honour God. Enduring honour is found only in valuing Him above anything or anyone else. We are to esteem, respect and reverence Him as the Great King in our lives. To God alone does our honour transcend to worship. He is worthy of all of our praise and honour to the highest degree.
Honouring those in Authority
Just as we need to honour God, we also need to honour those who have been placed by Him in authority over us. Rom13:1-2 says: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God.” The authorities in our lives include our parents, church leaders, bosses, government leaders and teachers. By honouring those God has placed in leadership over us, the Honour Principle applies and we will be rewarded according to the degree we value the authority. This is particularly important in the tumultuous times we are living in politically. We need to remember that no-one gets appointed as President without God knowing about it. They may not be godly, but they have been allowed by God. Instead of being critical of our leaders we should start to pray for them and thank God for them. Paul said: “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving thanks be made for… all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1Tim 2:1-2
Attitudes and actions
This may seem unfair if you are often mistreated or hurt by your leaders, be it your boss, husband or even your pastor. However, if your heart is pure, there will be a just reward. 1 Pet 2:20-21 says: “But if you are treated badly for good behaviour and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God. This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived.” When we are mistreated and continue to be a good worker, student, civilian or church member we are showing honour at its highest level. It takes the fear of God in our hearts to continue to treat as valuable those who have mistreated us. Paul states: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Heb 13:17. Notice that he says we need to both obey and submit to those in authority. Obedience deals with our actions and submission with our attitude. We need to remember that if we don’t honour those over us it is unprofitable for us, not the leader. We lose our reward.
Refuse to sin
However, if we are mistreated and we still honour our leaders we will be rewarded. Once we see beyond the circumstances and focus on this spiritual principle we will never be disappointed. Once you get the Honour Principle deep within your heart, what can anyone do to you? 1 Pet 3:13 says: “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” Any mistreatment, especially by those in authority over you, is just setting you up for a promotion or a reward if you handle the mistreatment correctly. It is important to note that the Bible teaches unconditional submission to authority, meaning our attitudes always need to be honourable. However, it does not teach unconditional obedience (actions). There is one time where the Bible tells us not to obey an authority, and that is when authority tells us to sin (do something contrary to the Word of God).
Ministers of the Gospel
“Let the elders who rule be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain’, and ‘The labourer is worthy of his wages.’” 1 Tim 5:17-18 This is the only place in all of Scripture where you will find “double honour” in regard to authority. We’re to give ministers of the Gospel twice as much honour as we would to other leaders. Practically speaking, how is this done? Our behaviour and speech toward Christian leaders should be with the utmost respect. We should listen attentively when the Word of God is preached. We should look for ways to serve our leaders even when we are not asked. We should strive for excellence in all we do in representing them. Another way to honour our church leaders is with our finances.
Honouring our spouses
1 Pet 3:1: “Wives, be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the Word they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives…Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” It is impossible to have true peace in a home where a wife leads or dominates or where the husband is not respected as the head. The opposite is also true – in homes where the wife submits to her husband and honours his role in the home then the entire family is blessed. Men should treat their wives as ladies. This can be as simple as opening doors for her, protecting her from rude people or deciding on her choice of holiday destination above their own. To lead in the Kingdom is to serve, not to dominate. As a husband, the only time your decisions should override your wife’s desire is when you’re certain it’s the best option for her, the family or the Kingdom of God. This is one reason you are made leader over her, to lay down your life for her. This is honouring your wife and you will be blessed and rewarded, and your prayers will not be hindered.
Living honourable lives
All true honour comes from the heart. One of the most effective ways our hearts are changed is through genuine prayer. Pray daily for God’s love, Holy fear and honour to abound in your hearts for it will continue to bear fruit in your life. When you walk in obedience to the Word of God and live honourably, you will be amazed as you are transformed into being a greater ambassador for the Kingdom of God. Your reward will be great and you will experience joy beyond what you have experienced before. We don’t honour just to get a reward, we honour because it is the heart of God and it is our delight. However, the reward is surer than the seed bringing forth its own fruit. Rewards always follow all true honour.
Honouring one another
Honour gives preference to others because it values and esteems them. Paul said: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another.” Rom 12:10. By loving others and treating them as we would like to be treated ourselves is a demonstration of honour and respect. Living out the love of the Lord in our hearts is the greatest testimony we can give. Matt 25:40: “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Once you’ve asked God to put honour in your heart for all people, your whole life will change. You’ll treat the waiter differently, the petrol attendant, your colleagues, your friends and your family. It will become a way of life.
Honouring our children
Our children also need to be honoured. Parents dishonour their children not only by harsh or negative words they speak, but also by neglecting to communicate praise or acceptance at the appropriate time. Children require frequent encouragement, direction and affirmation. They need to be told, as well as shown, that they are loved and valued. It is also dishonourable to withhold discipline. It is imperative to correct our children when they do wrong so that they too may learn how to live honourably. God bestows a valuable reward through our children and we need to prove faithful by honouring them. Ps 127:3 says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
We are told to honour God with our finances in Prov 3:9: “Honour the Lord with your possessions and with the first fruits of all your increase.” One way we can honour God is by giving Him our money. The question is, how do we do that? And the answer is simple: By giving it to the one He sends you. Tithes and offerings are there not only to bless others, but to bless us as well. When we withhold our tithes or offerings we only harm ourselves because we are dishonouring God. He clearly says so in Mal 3:8: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” He continues to say: “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this’, says the Lord of Hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’” This is just another way to honour our Christian leaders, and in doing so, reaping rewards in our own lives too.
Extracted from John Bevere’s latest book, ‘Honour’s Reward’ . Used with permission.