Most assuredly, each of us should enjoy a proper level of honor. Honor can never be demanded. As much as we may attempt to do so, honor must be given. Honor should be automatic or inherent to some people positioned in our lives: We should honor father and mother, leaders in the Body, and governmental leaders, according to Scripture. The Bible doesn’t seem to carry many caveats or exemptions to these “honor consistent with role and position” instructions either. We don’t read, “Honor father and mother unless they ask you to do something you don’t want to do.” Or, “honor governmental leaders unless they are not of your political party or philosophical persuasion.”
Hebrews 2:7-8 tells us of man’s intrinsic honor or value, “You crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands: You put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he subjected all things unto him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to him.” Within this context of creation, we remember to honor marriage, and men are instructed especially to honor their wives, and women reminded to honor their husbands.
Jesus says, “For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death.” Ephesians 6:2-3 says, “Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” Paul reminds us to honor true widows as an extension of honoring parents. [See 1 Timothy 5:3.]
Paul gives us examples of kingdom honor. Philippians 2:29, of Epaphroditus: “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor.” Not just him, but leaders like him. Also, 1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.”
Paul reminds us of honor properly due in the social setting: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Here, Paul shows contrasts of role, position, and honor. He will also remind us of honoring those who are leaders in our workplace.
In other words, by definition and design, we will honor some people more than they really deserve. Amazingly, God is asking us to honor people with more honor than they deserve! The honor of their position or role in family, kingdom, or society is really the honor of God’s design and definition. To fail in this honor is to short-circuit some aspect of Divine design. Honor is intrinsically woven into all of life as God created and designed it to function; without proper honor, dysfunction plagues every level of life, chaos and anarchy threated the core values of family, kingdom, and society, and the finely-tuned foundations of God’s world begin to unravel.
Demanding Inappropriate Honor
At the same time, some people demand more honor than they deserve and remain in constant offense for not having received the fullness of their false expectations. Paul speaks to this when he says, “For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think [υπερφρονειν], but to think as to think soberly [σωφρονειν] according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith. For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office [πραξιν].”
Honor is value. When we demand inappropriate value or demand to be valued inappropriately, we create false expectations that will not be fulfilled, and we remove the foundation and function of proper honor. By demanding inappropriate honor, we produce frustrate the proper honor that would release what God has determined and designed to release through our role and position in family, kingdom, and culture.
Certainly, this is a function of a pride. This spiritual condition warps the whole of a person. Pride is deception, and the deception taints the whole. Receiving the lie, believing the lie, and living the lie that we are worth more than we are filters away the impact and influence of what God actually created us to be and called us to do.
In the United States, we have no king. If any of our elected officials would begin to demand that honor, the value of authority or position due a king, the citizens would rise in protest, not to destroy the office in which that official was properly placed, but to protest the inappropriate demand of that official to be king, reign as a king, or be treated with the honor due a king. We simply don’t have a place for honor due a king in our culture.
In the kingdom, any person demanding to be given more honor than is appropriate to their role and function would be appropriately confronted. Not in a way that would destroy all the proper functions of leadership, but a way that would, in fact, strength all the leadership strategies Jesus designed for His kingdom ecclesia, a way that would clarify the proper role and position of leadership in the kingdom so that we can properly honor them.
In the family, any member of the family who demands to be treated with honor inappropriate to their role and position brings chaos and disharmony to the home. A woman cannot be properly honored as a husband because her role is different. A child cannot be properly honored as a leader because they are not leaders in the home. A man cannot dismiss his wife or children from any honor and rule with a sense of being king without destroying the basis for honor God designed into the family.
Dysfunctions that occur in the institutions of life branch out of these inappropriate demands for honor. The tension between honor and being honored may be a source of chronic dishonor.
Some people have no expectations, playing it safe so they are never disappointed. Of course, “having no expectations” is really a form of avoidance behavior, irrational and unreal, another form of false expectations. Not expecting any honor means that you expect not to function properly in any part of your life.
This is different from demanding inappropriate honor in one sense but actually is demanding inappropriate honor in another. You should expect to honor and be honored if you are living according to God’s design. Expecting not to honor or to be honored is a pretty serious malfunction of God’s way of living!
False expectations can come from having too little expectation as well as having great expectations that are unrealistic.
After many years of life and ministry, much of it in some form of leadership, some in each of the institutions God designed for culture, I am certain that most people have some level of inaccuracy with regards to expectations of themselves and others. These inappropriate expectations may become a basis for an inappropriate demand of honor.
So, I wonder if there isn’t a connection. Perhaps inappropriate honor begets inappropriate demands of honor. Perhaps lack of proper honor for some in society produces a false expectation of entitlement, an inappropriate demand to be honored when nothing has been done or no proper role or position for honor exists.
Our city remains in the process of discussion on a “human rights” proposal to provide the LGBT of our city with special protections. “LGBT” stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual.” In a recent public discussion, one lesbian spokesperson said that this ordinance was needed to protect “her personal worth.” She is confused about the meaning of value or honor because she is equating her personal decision about sexual identity and behavior with the basic value of human life, asking for “human rights” upon the basis of a chosen behavior, a false expectations that she has the “right” to create a new norm for the whole of our city in order to experience her personal sense of worth.
She should be afforded the entire honor that human rights afford anyone. She has intrinsic, created value as a person. I would die to protect her rights as a human being, but I will not, for a moment, allow her to redefine the norm of society to give honor to her choice in sexual identity and behavior. God gives no such honor to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual behavior and identity. In other words, this isn’t about the need to honor these choices at all. It is about a false expectation, a demand for inappropriate honor that would change the very foundations of God’s design for family, kingdom, and culture.
In the Kingdom
Jesus is clear that honor is a part of kingdom. He is also clear that dishonor is common. “A prophet is not without honor…” Honor flows toward those who’s sending, gifting, anointing, and functioning is vital to the kingdom. “…except in his own country.” In his own country, where a history of honor has been established, sent leaders run into barriers of preconceptions. Jesus ran into the barriers of his family history in Nazareth: “Hey, isn’t that Joseph’s boy? Who does He think He is claiming to be all that and a bag of chips around here?” He’s just a builder’s boy – “Jesus the builder.”
Jesus says, “I honor My Father but you dishonor Me.” And, “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son honors not the Father that sent Him.” Honor releases anointing. Honor releases what God put into someone so He could release it through someone. Dishonor shuts us off from what God has sent into our lives, so hell works to limit honor in order to frustrate God’s strategy of leadership.
The frustration of honor comes both from dishonor and from inappropriate demands of honor.
I think the political spirit may be the most threatening spiritual condition for the modern church. I know that the antichrist spirit gets a lot more coverage in terms of ultimate spiritual conspiracy theories, but it is the political spirit that makes a way for the antichrist spirit and its substitutes for the “pro-Christ Spirit.” The political spirit functions on deception, lies, and false expectations.
In the Kingdom, no leaders rise to proper function through a political spirit, and any leader whose honor is based upon political dynamics will be unable to function properly demanding a new structure and polity for leadership foreign to that Jesus has established.