We don’t hear the word honor often today. It seems like honor has disappeared from our vocabulary, and it has also disappeared from our daily lives. People frequently do not treat each other well on social media, in politics, or on the news. Families are often in turmoil because of a lack of respect between parents and children. Employees are often put down by their employers, and employers are often undermined by their employees. With the world in such a state, it can be tempting to throw up our hands in desperation. It’s not clear where honor went, or how to get it back. What can we do in such a world?
One thing we can do, as Christians, is remember what the Bible says about honor. We see in Scripture that honor is treating people the way they ought to be treated and esteeming them appropriately. For example, we honor God because He is God. He created the heavens and the earth, and He is robed in splendor (Ps. 104). He is merciful, gracious, just, and holy (Ex. 34:6–7; Isa. 6:3). The psalmist asks, “Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?” (Ps. 113:5). We also understand from Scripture that all men and women deserve honor, because they are image bearers of this great God (Gen. 1:26; 9:6). God values His image bearers to such a degree that He became one of us to save His people (John 1:14; 3:16). Honor is also described as something that is gained or lost, like a reward (Job 14:21; Prov. 3:35).
So, the Bible talks about honoring God, honoring people, and giving and receiving honor. But what else does it say? It also says that honor brings blessing. Blessing, in the Bible, is related to well-being in all of life. For example, honoring our fathers and mothers is explicitly tied to living long and having things go well with us (Ex. 20:12). While this command was originally given to the ancient Israelites, it is also a promise for us today (Eph. 6:1–3). In the Psalms, the Lord’s favor is associated with honor (Ps. 84:11). In Proverbs, honor is associated with riches, life, and wisdom (Prov. 21:21). This isn’t unusual. Honor is a blessing, and it brings blessing. We can see this in our daily lives. If we treat people well and esteem them appropriately, we will have a healthier family life. We will be quicker to receive a promotion in our workplace. Yes, sometimes we honor others, and we are not rewarded for it—at least, not in this life. But nevertheless, ultimately, honor brings blessing, whether in this life or in the life to come. We are, after all, storing up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20). We know that, in the end, our labor isn’t in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).