“O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me: (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.” Psalm 7:3-5
The Psalmist is serious about accountability in regards to the treatment of others. He is very aware that his actions will be judged. He is concerned that his treatment, even of his enemy, needs to be weighed by eternal standards. He knows that the principle of cause and effect is one to which he is also accountable. It makes me wonder - how serious are we today about our treatment of others?
When phrases like, “It’s your life, do what you want.” or, “No one has the right to judge you.” are the standard by which we estimate our actions and make decisions, then I doubt that we are holding ourselves to a Biblical standard. Seems most people want the “honour”, but not the accountability or standard by which honour is earned.
The Biblical definition of honour is reputation, dignity and glory. The Psalmist recognizes that his reputation is built upon how he treats others. The dignity, to which he lives, is the same dignity that he must afford others. And, any glory that would come from his life is limited to his awareness of the value of others. To lay his honour in the dust is to lose his honour, reputation, and dignity because of failure in his treatment of others.
We are all affected by how others treat us. No one is exempt from being influenced or swayed by the actions and opinions of others to some degree. And, we are all accountable for how we treat others. We can never expect to get far in life or have a good reputation if we are unkind, selfish or cruel.
What about you? Do you see the accountability before you? Or, do you think that no one matters but yourself? Do you feel justified in returning evil for evil, or do you see that a higher standard is required?
“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
The definition of the word, honour, in this verse is different than reputation or dignity. It has to do with value and reverence. Value based on a price or rank is the idea. For example, we would value a Ferrari over a Renault based on price and on rank. Or, we would value a granite counter top over a wooden chopping board. Not only would we see that one was more valuable than the other, we would also treat one with greater care than the other because it’s value deserves and demands greater.
Another side of this is the deference we would show to the more valuable thing or person, for that matter. If we were in the presence of the manager of a company we would potentially show more etiquette than if we were in the presence of his basic employee. We would also be more ready to hear his ideas and instruction than to hear the same from the employee.
We are instructed here in Romans to show such consideration to those to whom it is due. So, we are to defer to those in authority, those who have positions of respect and leadership. But also, it goes further. Showing honour is a choice. We can choose to show honour to the basic employee or the wooden chopping board as well. Our attitude toward others and toward things is never dependent solely upon their perceived value, but upon our personal choice and estimation of their value.
In James we are warned about showing preference to the rich man and humiliating the poor. Since God is no respecter of persons, we, too, are to value each person. This is not a contradiction, but rather, an opportunity to shed light on both sides of how we honour and respect the dignity and value of others. Humility is the key. Pride is the inhibiter.
What about you? Are you humble enough to show value to those above you and below you? Or, does your pride go about looking to see who is praising you and your ideas? Do you show preference to those above you and disdain for those beneath? Are you respectful and honouring of authority? Or, are you seeking to tear them down on your way up the proverbial ladder?
“Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me…” John 8:54
Jesus is characterized by humility. One good definition of humility is – knowing your place. As we think about this verse we can see that Jesus knew his place. Though thoroughly God and endowed with all power in heaven and on earth, he keeps himself in the right place – under submission to the Father.
We never see Jesus walking around telling the disciples or the followers to bow to him or telling them how great He was. He knew that such boasting and pride were a direct opposite of his character. There was no place for pride or self promotion in the life of Jesus. His Father was in control and he was doing the will of the Father. Any honour that would come his way would come through the Father and because of Jesus’ obedience.
We can know this is the opinion of Jesus not only because we can see the works he did and read the words he said, but also because of the choice of word used in this verse. The word honour means to think, suppose or be of an opinion. It has to do with praise and magnification, and to adorn with lustre or clothe in splendour, to make renowned.
Jesus knew that heaping praise and adoration upon himself was not the way to honour the Father. This was the way of the shallow and self-centred. He also knew that all praise and adoration that would be bestowed upon him came through the Father. He was content with that.
Do you go about pointing out your strengths and accomplishments to others in order to gain praise? Do you “blow your own horn”. Or, can you understand that obedience done in secret and without fanfare will be rewarded openly by God?
“A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.” Proverbs 11:16
This proverb is so very instructive. The word honour in this instance means glory and abundance. It also has to do with dignity, reverence and reputation. But before we take off on what this woman has, maybe we need to take time to see how she obtained it?
Just like respect is earned and not demanded, honour also comes to those who know it’s value and have taken the time to develop the character qualities to which honor is deserved.
First, she is called a “gracious woman”. A gracious woman is one characterized by kindness, grace, charm, and elegance. She is not a brawler or a gossiper. She is never ill-mannered or inconsiderate. Her manner and carriage are those of class and refinement. She has taken time to consider her attitudes and actions and knows the value of presenting herself well.
The honour that comes her way is important to her. I doubt that it is because she is seeking the praise, but rather, that she is seeking to please her Lord and to keep a good testimony. So, it is said that she “retaineth honour”. This means that she maintains her manner so as to grasp, hold, or keep her honour. She places great value on her reputation and guards it.
Since the idea of honour has also to do with abundance, and the remainder of the verse has a reference to riches, we can also assume that the gracious woman has benefited greatly from her choices. She is, by her own actions and choices, able to retain not only her reputation, but also the abundance or blessings that have come her way. She is a woman of prudence; a woman attentive to her business and demeanor. Truly, she is rare and immensely attractive.
Have you ever met such a woman? How did she impress you? What benefits do you see related to the choice to be gracious? What honours to you think she would have received? Would you be a candidate for the same?
“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9
The basis of the definition of honour in this verse is another totally different one than we would ever imagine. It has the idea of weight, or to make heavy by placing honour upon. It is also related to abundance and glory.
Sometimes we see our giving as just another box to tick. If we have tithed and given to missions or another special cause, then we have done our bit. But this verse is teaching more than the simple performance of a spiritual discipline. It is about seeing the value behind the action and rendering our gifts as ways to actually honour the Lord – to place the weight of glory upon Him.
Someone once said, “We can never out give God.” And truly, we cannot. But if we want the rest of the verse to be real and tangible, then we cannot be flippant about our giving. We need to see it as a real act of worship and recognition of God’s supremacy and honour. As we submit to his directives in giving, we can then claim the rest of the promise. He will abundantly bless.
There is an odd little proverb in Proverbs 24:27 that teaches to make things right in the field before you build your house. I knew a man that took this to heart. He bought a large plot of land and built a barn. When people questioned him about it, he quoted this verse. A few years later he built an amazingly beautiful house on the same property. Because he had honoured the Lord in his giving, and followed the directives of that simple proverb, God had abundantly blessed.
I think sometimes we get things the wrong way around, we think that if we are not provided for first, then we cannot give to God or follow His methods. The truth is that if we would first give and obey as a priority, we would be better positioned for God to bless us in the abundant fashion for which He is known.
How about you? Do you just throw money in the plate with no thought about honouring God? Do you just go through the motions in your Christian life? Or, do you see that God wants to be honoured and obeyed in order to bless you abundantly? It is a weighty matter!