What does Biblical Honour look like?
It’s a question I thought I had nailed during our courtship, with that Scripture verse of honouring your parents, explored and extracted over and over.
But, there I was sitting, scrolling through e-mails and Pinterest in the intense humidity and heat of an Australian December leading up to Christmas day, sweat dripping in that room where the air conditioner didn’t reach, yet still somehow glued to the computer, that in all honesty probably needed to be turned off to not overheat or be fried by the lightning whizzing down from the dark sky.
It was about this time last year and I was reading of how many were picking their word of the year for the next year, and after an intense year of pregnancy and birth, I excitedly asked God if He had a word to define my next 12 months.
The word dropped into my spirit almost immediately, like a heavy rock, full of weight: HONOUR.
Somehow I knew this word wasn’t going to lend itself to an easy year, and within days a situation blew sky high, and as the dust began to settle we were left asking answers about how to honour in this predicament and yet stand our ground, according to the Bible. Actually, as I look through the definitions of honour, this is amazingly what we were called to do.
Honour isn’t really a word that we use much anymore, in fact one website cited the word to be in the bottom 40% of words used in the English language today; and maybe that’s because part of the definition is the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right(that came right off Google’s homepage.)
However another definition and probably the one I’m looking at the most today is to show respect for someone, and how to do that.
Honesty is acknowledging the situation; what’s going on and dealing with it appropriately. You can be gentle but firm in standing up for yourself.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” Proverbs 15:1
Your gentle yet firm answer may also provoke anger, but at that point it’s due to the conscience of the other person reacting. You aren’t adding fuel to the fire.
The other person may then rant and accuse you of things to your face and behind your back which you need to prayerfully evaluate, but then you also need to continue to choose to forgive them.
Forgiveness is a choice, and a day by day, minute by minute choice at times. It is an act of our will, that helps keep our spirit right with God and has physical consequences on our bodies. Unforgiveness, offence and bitterness make us sick.
You may need to cut off nasty words that they are saying about you. Imagine you are out in a field and suddenly thick dark clouds gather above you; these are like negative words over your life, which act as a ceiling.
My husband is very sensitive to this and he will suddenly start feeling heavy for apparently no reason. When we pray about it and ask why, God often shows us who is saying nasty things and what they are saying, and we pray this Scripture verse from Proverbs 26:2.
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest, and I declare that all negative words being spoken about me shall drop to the ground and have no effect.”
BUT, this prayer does not work if your heart is not right with God, and you are holding onto bitterness, unforgiveness or offence, or if you are praying manipulative things for that person, instead of giving them to God and leaving them in His hands or blessing them with the gift of Salvation.
Keeping your attitude right before God, and honouring them as another human who may or may NOT be a Child of God is so important.
One thing that we are missing as a culture and that God is restoring to the church is a Culture of Honor. Danny Silk has some profound writings on this very topic, and how to bring back this missing ingredient into our families.
As we came towards the end of the year, I thought we had learned this lesson, but then I found this blog post by Arabah Joy about words for the year and knowing if they had produced fruit.
So I asked God if my word had produced fruit; and He directed me back to this book by John Bevere; Honor’s Reward, exploring the concept of the rewards God gives when we honour, and what that looks like in our relationships with family, spouses, parents, pastors, civil authority and government EVEN when we don’t agree with what they are doing.
I’d read it many years ago during our courtship as we navigated tricky waters of miscommunication, hormones and parental boundaries, but just opening the pages of this book and reading one chapter really brought the concept of honour back into sharp focus for me.
Another analogy that popped into my heart recently regarding honour was that of a pimple.
Pimples occur when the gunk under the skin comes to a point where it’s gotta get out. Sometimes even the slightest touch can cause them to pop, even when we don’t go looking for them, and other times after much prayer, we do have to confront situations.
When a situation pops, deal with the gunk that comes out. Maybe an honest conversation needs to take place with the person, but then if we continue to poke at it, it becomes inflamed and it can’t heal, and worse than that, there is a scar left.
Honour that person by yes, standing your ground on what is morally and ethically right, BUT also being respectful in your conversations to and about them, asking God to show you where the issue stemmed from and deal with any of it that you can. Continue to pray for the other person and yourself to have God’s perspective. You never know, you might receive a full unprompted apology.
I’ve alluded to two different situations here in this blog post, one that ended in an apology and restored relationship, and one that after our best efforts and advice from many wise people, ended in a severed relationship for the good of our family. (I’m not talking about marriage, this is a covenant between a man and a woman and you need specific counselling in this area.)
If your marriage needs some serious spiritual warfare, I highly recommend Kaylene Yoder’s 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting.
I also loved what Alisa had to share about practical ways to honour within your marriage.
Two of pastoral couples I greatly esteem and have sat under, both had sticky situations in their marriages involving alcoholism and a near affair, but due to prayer and honour given where none was earned, they were able to move into God given destinies.
Redemption is possible.
Honouring someone while being honest about the situation is tricky and a bit sticky, a crazy balancing act at times, but I hope these few tips gained over the course of this year are a help to you.
Have you encountered a sticky situation where God was calling you to honour someone? How did that work out and what was the biggest thing you learnt? I’d love to hear from you!