As I was fasting and praying while speaking at a conference in Argentina the Lord began to drop into my spirit this teaching on honor. Also, recently I was in a conference listening to a pastor by the name of Emory Goodman say that understanding this concept revolutionized his life and ministry. Immediately I knew I was supposed to delve into this as well. As of the writing of this article I have not yet read or listened to any teachings on this subject. Thus, any overlap with other teachers is due to having the same Holy Spirit teaching us.

What Honor Is

Honor in this context has to do with recognizing what a person is worth, celebrating who they are and what they have accomplished, and making room for them according to the God-given honor they deserve. Honor is an offshoot of worship. The greatest example of worship is when a person worships God as their Creator in song, words, actions, and in having no other god before the one and true God. Biblical examples for this are found in the Book of Revelation, when the elders and living creatures come before the throne of God and worship the Lamb of God (in Rev. 4:6-11 the inhabitants of heaven worship God by giving Him glory and honor and praise).

Since humans are created and are not the Creator they should never be worshipped. But since they are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:28) they should be honored as God’s image-bearers and the crown of His creation (Psalm 8:3-4).

Since honor is not exactly the same as worship but a symptom of worship, in the same way heat is not the sun but an offshoot of the sun, it is not a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3 to honor a human being. Worship is the highest and most powerful expression of honor, but honoring worthy humans for certain characteristics is absolutely vital to release kingdom harmony, synergy, and power on the earth. As a matter of fact, God even bestows His glory upon those who follow Him faithfully (read Isaiah 60:2) and Jesus told us in His kingdom prayer that He gives the church the glory that the Father bestowed upon Him (John 17:22).

Many pastors and leaders are frustrated because they do not sense the power and presence of God in their churches. Also, many people in the church are frustrated because they do not feel appreciated and released into their kingdom destiny. We think this will come automatically with prayer, fasting, healings, and great preaching. But, if pastors would help create a culture of honor in their churches and if members would learn how to respect and honor spiritual authority there would be an incredible release of the glory of God in our midst!

Honoring God Properly

We honor God first and foremost by ascribing to Him the glory due His name by having no other gods before Him. That is to say in our lives, affections, goals and purpose we should fully surrender to His will for our lives and His kingdom. Paul described living like this as the “one thing” that he lives for: to know Christ and be conformed to His resurrection and His death (Philippians 3:7-10).

Furthermore, since honor is based on worth and worth determines how much we financially give to someone or something, one of the primary signs God is honored in our life is by how much we sacrifice to give financially to His kingdom. Proverbs 3:9 connects financial giving with honoring the Lord. In another place in the Pentateuch it teaches us not to appear before the Lord empty-handed (meaning every time you assemble with God’s people to worship the Lord you should bring an offering or a gift).  In the strictest meaning of finances and honor this means we don’t only give to a person because they are in financial need; we give to a person because it is a way we honor them for who they are and what they have done. (First Kings 10 teaches us that the kings and queens of the earth that came to hear the wisdom of Solomon honored him for his wisdom by lavishing him with gifts even though he was already the richest person on the face of the earth!)

Principles for Honoring People

I. Honoring Parents—The Fifth Commandment

Exodus 20:12 teaches us to honor our fathers and mothers so that it will go well with us in the land the Lord has given us. Because the honor of parents is the only one of the Ten Commandments that commands honor, we know that the bedrock of honoring fellow human beings starts first and foremost with honoring both physical and spiritual parents. If we cannot honor our parents we will not be able to honor anyone else adequately because our parents are the bedrock of our childhood emotions, and spiritual parents are the foundation of our spiritual growth.

Honoring parents also has to do with spiritual fathers and mothers in the Hebrew culture. The 1960’s released upon the earth--through England and the United States--a spirit of rebellion that was the worst since the French Revolution which attempted to overthrow all religion and belief in God. Western culture went from honoring old people for their wisdom and life experience to hating everyone over 30 and creating a so-called “generation gap” in which parents were taught to expect their children to mess up and grow emotionally apart from them until they were able to find themselves and come back home. Our culture has never recovered from this spirit of rebellion. Now all over the world the media and advertisers glorify youth, strength, beauty and sexual ability as the highest ideals, while old people are looked at as a nuisance to be discarded by their children and put in old-age homes.

Even though the Bible says that having grey hair is a crown of wisdom, now even older people are getting face lifts, shooting themselves with botox, dying their hair and injecting their bodies with HGH all in an attempt to look young to keep up with what’s acceptable in our culture.

Thus, as we interpret all of this we understand in principle the following:

• Honoring your parents has to do with respecting their wisdom, experience and accomplishments by learning from their mistakes and successes and building upon them to go to a higher level. Those who have only unforgiveness toward their parents because of their failures do not honor their parents and, consequently, will not go to another level because they are not free in their emotions from the sin of unforgiveness. \

• Honoring our fathers and mothers protects us from rebellion to authority which is like the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). While honoring does not always mean to obey, it has to do with having a spirit of submission in which we weigh carefully what our biological parents say and respond to them with the utmost respect and humility.

• Honoring authority means to pray for our parents and believe for their latter years to be spent in peace watching their children grow to become greater than they are.

• Honoring our parents means supporting them financially when they retire.

• Honoring our parents means caring for them when they are sick.

II. Spiritual Authority (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 13)

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing those in authority to speak into our lives and give us counsel.

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to speak prophetically over our lives.

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to hold us personally accountable when we make mistakes.

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with allowing them to place us properly in the kingdom of God and the church. Don’t presumptuously attempt to place yourself and ordain yourself in the kingdom or church.

• Honoring spiritually authority has to do with respecting the decisions they make in the church.

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with receiving and walking in love with the other spiritual children of your spiritual parents.

• Honoring our spiritual and biological parents has to do with not uncovering them to others when we discover sin in their lives (read Genesis 9:20-28).

• Honoring spiritual authority has to do with celebrating their godly legacy and building our lives upon it while at the same time retaining our own call and identity.

• Supporting the corporate vision of the local church founded by our spiritual fathers and mothers.

III. Honoring One Another

We desperately need to create a culture of honor in our churches and organizations. As we learn to practice honor with those around us we will truly release the glory of God in our churches and organizations. The following are general principles in honoring one another. We honor one another when we:

• Respect every human being as an image-bearer of God. (I love addressing homeless men as “sir” when I stop my car to ask for directions. I enjoy seeing them feel respected and their eyes lighting up wanting to do anything possible to give me the proper instructions.)

• Put other people before ourselves according to the attitude of Christ shown in Philippians 2:3-12.

• Recognize and celebrate one another’s unique gifts, personality and calling.

• Highly regard one another with our words when we are not with others personally.

• Understand someone’s particular challenges and how the Lord is processing them to maturity towards their unique calling. (Knowing a person’s context helps us honor them properly.)

• Defer to one another and make room for one another’s gifts. (Jealousy is the opposite spirit of honor because it breeds insecurity and limits our ability to accept a person’s calling, ability and place in the kingdom.)

• Recognize the true value of each person’s contributions and speak it to them and to others.

• Give a person monetary gifts or public praise and recognition equal to the quality, sacrifice and kind of work they have accomplished.

• Do all we can do in our prayers, acts of kindness and team work to aid those around us to accomplish their calling in the kingdom.

• Use our gifts to serve and protect other people.

• Trust a person’s word we give them honor and respect.

• Keep our word to a person we honor them and show them respect.

• When husbands love their wives they overlook their weaknesses and commit themselves to their spouse’s success.

• When wives respect their husbands in spite of their shortcomings they release them to love and protect and provide for them and their family.

IV. The Blessings of Honoring Other People

• When you honor someone you release them to trust you.

• When you honor someone you release them to bless you.

• When you honor someone you release them to serve you.

• When you honor someone you release them to honor and celebrate you in return.

• When you honor a person you encourage them to remain true to their calling to serve God and become the best they can be.

V. Characteristics of an Honorable Person

• First and foremost, they honor God with the highest glory.

• They are principle-centered people who act based on their responsibility, not based on how they feel.

• They are people of humility who recognize the value and worth of others besides themselves.

• They are people who display excellence in their lives.

• They don’t take their lives or gifts of God for granted but are always grateful for what they have been blessed with.

• They don’t flatter others for advantage.

• They are unimpressed with fleeting treasures, pleasures and power.

VI. Biblical Examples of Honorable People

• Joseph when he didn’t divorce Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus (Matthew 1:19-20).

• David when he spared King Saul’s life (1 Samuel 24).

• Joseph when he refused to lie with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-10).

• Job when he refused to curse God (Job 2:9-10).

• The life of the excellent woman in Proverbs 31.

• Jesus who died on the cross for the joy that was set before Him of obeying His Father’s will (Hebrews 12:1-3).

VII. Biblical Examples of Dishonorable Men
 
• Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

• Demas who forsook Paul when he was in his darkest hour (2 Timothy 4:9).

• Onan who refused to raise up seed for his brother.

• King Ahab who allowed his wife Jezebel to kill Naboth for his vineyard (1 Kings 21).

• Jacob’s sons who left Joseph their brother to die because of jealousy.

• Cain who murdered his brother Abel because of jealousy (Genesis 4).

• King Saul who attempted to kill David because of jealousy (1 Samuel 18-30).

• Peter who denied three times that he knew Jesus.

• Peter when he denied he knew Gentile believers for fear of Jewish believers (Galatians 2).

The question arises: how do we treat those who act dishonorably in the midst of us? Of course, this teaching doesn’t do away with the need to correct others, discipline the saints or even terminate a person’s employment or dis-fellowshipping a person from a church because of inappropriate behavior damaging to a church, family or organization.

Matthew 18:15-17 gives us guidelines on what to do in these instances. When we don’t correct dishonorable behavior we actually lower the standards of honor for everyone else and hurt our organizations. But, even in these instances, we need to make sure we don’t go too far in uncovering people, that we attempt to restore them in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1-4) and that we do not allow ourselves to harbor bitterness or unforgiveness towards them.

Whenever I am greatly challenged by a person acting dishonorably towards me and I reach an impasse with them because they are not willing to change or repent, I go into my default position in which I honor the work of the blood of Christ, forgiving them just as God in Christ forgave me (read Ephesians 4:32-5:1).

Finally, if we want the glory of God to fall on our churches and organizations we need to honor one another in the same way that Jesus bestows on us the glory He received from His Father.

Dr. Joseph Mattera