Honor. Seems like a straight forward word. But how is it lived out? When I think of what honor means to me I lean toward the Webster dictionary definition which says honor is “a showing of usually merited respect.” Usually merited. Hmm. Does this definition represent honor in the way God intends us to display it?
On my journey at a Christ follower I have never known God to be a God of exclusion- where He casts us aside if we do not perform for Him. Or only loves us if we love Him. He is an all in God. His love toward us is not based on us, and what we do, it is based on His goodness.
With that in mind, we have to approach this word honor with a different mindset than our modern world, and different from Webster. In the Old Testament we learn of honor from Deuteronomy 5:16, where we are commanded to “Honor your Father and Mother”. As a child this word honor makes more sense. As a child honor is lived out through obedience. As we shift into adulthood honoring our parents becomes a little more hazy as the expectation of obedience cannot continue.
As adults we are aware we often do not take the life path or “end up” the way our parents had envisioned for us. How then do we show honor as adult children if it is not through obedience?
In Hebrew, the word honor is kabad meaning to be heavy, weighty or hard. The Genesius lexicon definition includes, “to bear up under.” These are not exactly the picture I had in my mind. My vision of showing honor was more like a feather, something light and easy. Instead the picture that this definition created for me is that of a weightlifter. Weightlifters bear up under the bar and support the weight with their strength and sure footing.
In essence, a weightlifter honors the weight, he respects the weight. A weightlifter does not begin lifting a two-hundred pound bar without training. It takes month and months, even years, of training to equip the body to support that kind of weight. So what does this have to do with honoring our parents as adults?
As adult children we are called to be supports, respect them and to lift them up. Keep in mind the Hebrew definition said nothing of only honoring our parents if it is merited. It is a command. Whether or not they have earned it.
Without training, without the sure footing that comes from years of walking in obedience, it is harder to make the transition from obedient child to honoring adult. Not impossible. Just hard. I believe that our training begins with putting Christ in His proper place. Recognizing that He is seated at the right hand of God the Father – a place of highest honor and favor.
Hebrews 8:1(TPT) says, “Now this is the crowning point of what we are saying: We have a magnificent King-Priest who ministers for us at the right hand of God. He is enthroned with honor next to the throne of the Majesty on high.”
Being trained in honor starts with our Heavenly Father. Love Him. Worship Him with every ounce of yourself. Honor and recognize His glory. Let the overflow of your love for Christ pour out into your relationships. Let Him train you on how to show honor so you can bear up under, support, love and respect your parents in a manner that glorifies Christ.
How is your relationship with your parents? Is it where you want it to be? How have you shown honor toward your parents? How have you or can you demonstrate honor even when they don’t “deserve” it in your eyes? Do you have good examples around you of people who are awesome at showing honor to their parents? What can you learn from them?