“Having honor for others, integrity within myself, and self-control in my actions…”
When I was first learning the words recited at the end of Tae Kwon Do class, I once mixed up the combination. “Having honor for myself…” I said.
I was quickly corrected.
Afterward I thought, why can’t I also have honor for myself?
In many ways, I can. It’s important for us to be people of honor. After all, honor can mean honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. Honor can also mean respect, and it’s important to have a healthy dose of self-respect along with our respect for others.
The problem occurs when we apply to ourselves what is intended to be given away. Did you know that the Hebrew word that instructs us to honor our father and mother, is the same word used when Pharaoh hardened his heart against the Israelites?
The root meaning of the word suggests the idea of heaviness, abundance, and riches. Such connotations paint an intriguing picture of how one word can be used in such different ways. When honor is given away, the heavy abundance spreads and the riches grow. Honor exalts others, builds them up, bestows riches upon them. But if that same word is turned upon ourselves, there is no place for that abundance to go. Instead, we become heavily burdened, dense, and hard.
That which is good to give to others can be detrimental when held onto for ourselves.
The Bible tells us when we honor our father and mother it will go well with us and we will enjoy long life. And the Bible also demonstrates to us how when Pharaoh was concerned only with himself, he hardened his heart and started down a path that lead to terrible devastation.
It is important that we grant the appropriate level of honor – in increasing measure – to ourselves, to others, and to God. Just as honoring ourselves more than others can be detrimental, so can displacing the honor that belongs only to God. Even the very name of Jesus is said to be above every name. John, in his revelation, recorded the praise that is due to our Heavenly Father:
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is in them saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13)
Let us join in that chorus, giving honor to God.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.