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On this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent, we delve into the concept of honor and its significance in our modern world. Join us as we explore the meaning of honor and its relevance in today’s narcissistic and therapeutic age. As we reflect on the duty and recipients of honor, we examine the potential impact of embracing this concept in our families and navigating the challenges of our current culture.

Episode Transcript

I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children.

Honor. It’s not a word you hear often today. In our narcissistic and therapeutic age, the idea of honoring someone seems outdated. Hi, my name is Chap Bettis, and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. In the next two podcasts, we’re going to look at a biblical concept that’s fallen out of favor: honor. Honor means the esteem due or paid to someone. And yet, the word and the concept has all but disappeared from our culture.

But when we look at the Bible, we see the concept of honor throughout. For example, Romans 12 tells us that it’s a way that Christians express love to each other. It’s commanded of children toward their parents and us towards government officials. In fact, God uses up one of His Ten Commandments by commanding us, or telling us, to honor our parents.

Now, certainly there is nuance to this command. There may be difficult circumstances that call for wisdom. Nevertheless, the person that wants to honor the Lord- oops, there’s that word again- will seek to appropriately honor those whom God calls him or her to honor. I wonder if bringing this concept up in an appropriate way helps create both young children and older children who have a good relationship with God and their parents.

Well, in this first podcast, I want to share a short sermon I did on Sunday night, entitled Honor: the Duty and its Recipients. We’ll think about God’s call on us to show honor to Him and others, and that’s a theme that saturates Scripture. I think if we’ll recapture this concept, we’ll walk more deeply with the Lord, and it will make our family different in a narcissistic and therapeutic age.

Before we start though, I want to remind you that we have a second podcast. It’s my audio blog. The audio blog is a short form podcast where I read my blog posts in audio format for your convenience. Think about it: you can consume good content while on the go or doing chores. Simply search and subscribe to The Disciple-Making Parent Audio Blog, or you can go to our website and find it there. But for now, let’s think about the duty and recipients of honor and how we can forget this concept today.

Well, good evening. It’s a privilege to address you. I count it an honor. And man, it is  good to be home, back with you again. Turn with me in your Bibles if you would to Matthew chapter 15. If you’re using a pew Bible, that’s page 869.

The last sermon I preached you was on a Sunday morning and I don’t know if you remember, but it came about because I was thinking about a biblical word. And I thought, I haven’t heard this in our tribe. And many of you said you were helped by that sermon. So the subject of tonight’s sermon is also one that’s been noodling around in my brain and bothering me as well. A word that is throughout the scriptures. And again, just in our culture, we don’t hear it a lot.

It actually started when Sharon and I were talking with two different friends who’s who are our age. We raised our kids together and both of them in tears related how their adult children and children-in-law had turned on them and, in essence, “canceled” them. Their children were accusing these parents of such terrible behavior that they would have to cut off contact, both of themselves and their grandchildren. And our friends were in tears.

Sharon and I know them well. They weren’t perfect, none of us are. I kept asking myself, these are young people that my kids grew up with, I knew them. And I’m like, What causes them to get to the point where they essentially cancel their parents?

In a similar way, another thing that’s been bothering me, and is perhaps appropriate for this week, as I’m on social media I’ve just been thinking about what seems to be a profound lack of gratefulness for our country. We’re not perfect. There’s so much to be done. But based on the brokenness of the rest of the world, I do think there’s much we get right. I see this complaining, cynicism, self-righteousness. What is it that bothers me about that so much? And I think both of those things come down to something I’d like us to talk about tonight that I’ve been studying, thinking about, and I just want to share just a little bit of the fruit of that. And that is the word honor.

Honor. What I want to suggest is that we live in a day that honors youth and dishonors age- and unhonors age. I’m going to define that in just a minute. And I think part of that might be Rousseau’s vision that this world is great, good, and children come in innocent. It’s the adults that have messed up the world. And so we need the innocence of little children to lead us. But I want to suggest that if you look at the scriptural theme of honor in scripture, that’s backwards. And so my main point tonight, if you want to take notes, is in an age of dishonor and unhonor, Christians have a gospel duty to honor God and to honor others. And so that’s what we’re just going to talk about very briefly tonight, just honoring God and honoring others.

So let me just pray and ask the Lord’s blessing on our time together. Lord, as we open up your word, as we think about this topic, we pray that we would be people who are not conformed to this world, but we would live differently. And so help us to think of this topic rightly and to see this word that perhaps we’ve read over quickly and think in new ways to love and honor you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I’m going to be looking at Matthew 15, but before we do that, I’ve given you kind of the theme in an age of dishonor and unhonor. Dishonor, I think you would know, is disrespect, but unhonor is a word I’m creating, and it’s the concept of honor that doesn’t even enter my mind. So I’m not being disrespectful. It just doesn’t even enter my mind. And that, to me, it seems like the age that we’re living in.

We’re going to look at Matthew 15. There are a number of passages we could look at. I chose this passage because here Jesus presents both what the Bible says, an overview of what the Bible says about scripture. Matthew chapter 15:

Then Jesus was approached by Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem, who asked, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat. And he answered them, Why do you break God’s commandment? Because of your tradition for God said, honor your father and your mother. And whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, Whoever tells his father or mother, Whatever benefit you might have received from me is a gift committed to the temple. He doesn’t have to honor his father. In this way, you’ve nullified the Word of God because of your tradition. Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands.

So in this passage, Jesus is asked about why he’s breaking the tradition of the elders with the ceremonial hand washing. He replies as a master teacher and asks them a question. So why do you break not the tradition of men, but the command of God to honor your father and mother. When you’re giving money that they need, you’re giving that to the temple, no doubt to be seen.

I think you can see in that passage two different aspects of honor that Jesus is teaching about: honor for God and honor among men and women. So let’s just take a minute. Think with me. What does honor actually mean? The Greek word has the idea of perceived value or worth. So when we honor something, we fix a price on it. We prize it. The Old Testament Hebrew word means weighty. Something is weighty. We think of it as weighty. And again, you can see this idea of being related to money. So greater worth equals greater gold: either that or greater weight. And what I want to suggest to you is that you and I have a duty that comes from the gospel to honor God and to honor others.

And the Holy Spirit, when he comes in us at our birth, actually sustains us and  encourages us down this line. So let’s think about, so in that passage, what does Jesus say? The people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. What’s Jesus saying? Jesus saying, we are his people are to honor him. Who is is the most esteemable, who is the most weighty in the universe? It’s God. It’s God. God is our creator, our sustainer, our redeemer.

In doing the study, what I found myself surprised several times, but one of those surprises was in Romans 1. Sometimes it’s easy, as Paul is making his case for why all men are under sin and deserve the wrath of God. And we could list all sorts of evil that men and women create. But in Romans 1 :21, Paul starts with this: For though they knew God, they did not glorify him or honor him as God, or show gratitude.

So what Paul is saying, even before he gets into the list of sins that we all think, oh, that’s really bad, he starts with the fact that mankind, womankind, men and women are not honoring the one who is giving them their very breath. You see that all over scripture. Malachi 1: A son honors his father, a servant his master. I’m a father, where’s my honor? And I’m a master, where’s the fear due me? And how are they not showing him honor? They were just going through the motions. They were bringing in the leftover lamb. Nobody’s going to buy that. I’ll give that to God. Not honoring him all the way to Revelation: Our Lord and our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power because you have created all things and by your will they exist and were created.

So the implication for us as people is to remind us as those who are believers, as followers of Christ, that we come together. We don’t just go to church. We come to honor the Lord. Our singing has a side benefit of encouraging ourselves and encouraging others, but it’s an offering to the Lord. We’re giving our money, yes, so that as the church we do things that extend the kingdom. Proverbs 3:9, Honor the Lord with your wealth. Apart from what anyone else is doing, we can say, We desire, I desire to honor the Lord.

If you see that, you see that throughout scripture, actually, it’s not only towards God, it’s in our daily lives that we’re to control our bodies. 1 Thessalonians 4, Each of you now know how to control his own body in holiness and honor. And even as Kevin led us in Romans 14 about disputable matters, what’s the whole thing about people with different positions? They do it to honor the Lord. We’re to honor and conduct ourselves honorably towards outsiders.

So this idea that God is most worthy of praise and we’re to live our life to honor him. Does that make sense? Are you tracking with that? So both on Sunday morning and Sunday night, as we worship him, we’re honoring him. And also throughout our week, as we live in a way that honors him. Having said that scripture doesn’t just lead us Godward. And you can see that in those scriptures because Jesus goes back to them and says, God says, honor your father and mother.

And so I want to take just a few minutes remaining and tell you seven different types of people that I came up with that scripture calls us to honor. And we can start with Romans 12:10. Again, as Kevin led us through that, that that chapter is on love. And one of the things that both 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12 shows us is love is multifaceted. Love is multifaceted. Sometimes love corrects, sometimes love encourages. And so both in Romans and in 1 Corinthians, Paul is showing the different facets of these diamonds of love. And in Romans 12 verse 10, Paul says to the Romans, Outdo one another in showing honor. Outdo one another. Come in to show honor to each other here.

In just a few verses, he’s going to tell them to give honor where honor is due, talking about the leaders. But basically, this is an aspect of love. And I can tell you, I remember learning that one time from a local pastor. And he would never start his sermon without specifically praising someone in the congregation. And I was just like, I need to learn from him. He made an effort to give honor to different people and thank them for their different service.

So, let me go through and tell you- we’re going to do this really quickly- seven different people God says we’re to honor. And this is for everybody, young children. Because the verse is right in the Ten Commandments. God takes one tenth of his commandments and says, Honor your father and your mother. And he quotes that here. Specifically this is towards adult children to support their parents financially. But Paul repeats the command, honor your father and mother, both in Ephesians and Colossians.

So as parents, we need to strive to raise our children to honor us, not because it’s a power trip, but because as Paul says in Ephesians, It’s the first commandment with a promise that it may go well with you. Some commentators debate since it’s the fifth commandment, does it go with the first four God-ward, or the last five that are man-ward. And then some, some have settled on this idea: it’s a bridge command because as a child is learning to honor those over him, he’s learning this habit of relating well to authority.

That doesn’t sit very well with America, right? My rights, nobody’s going to tell me what to do. And indeed we need to put a little asterisk on some of these. But we also need to let it settle that God’s people are to honor. And specifically, honor parents.

Not only that, we’re to honor our spouse. You’ll find that word in 1 Peter 3:7. Husbands, give honor to your wife. Wives, respect your husbands. I wonder how many marriage issues would be… softened, if we would each would seek to honor and esteem the other,  deliberately valuing with worth.

Honor those who are older. So not only honor your spouse, but Leviticus 19:32, Rise up before the gray headed and honor the aged. Now, who can we apply this to? It may seem quaint, but when I was in school, when the teacher walked in, everyone stood up and in the middle of class, if another teacher walked in, we all stood up again. So there was this idea of respect and honor.

A funny story: Kevin, with Jay at SBC, we’re standing along, there’s not many seats. And Jay Ridenour, pastor from up north, goes and leads the charge, and gets four seats. And then they had this nice Christian argument, trying to get the older lady and the older gentleman to please sit down. But they wouldn’t, you know, they were doing it to honor them, And yet, it was beautiful to watch how they were honoring them so they wouldn’t have to stand the whole time.

But I wonder if we think about this. I know we desire- and I love this about our church- we desire to reach across ethnic groups. But I wonder, do we actively reach across generations? I’ve had an older person from a different state say it to me this way, It’ll happen to you. People will look past you. What was that person saying? It’s not so much dishonor. It’s just unhonor. It’s just like that person doesn’t even register on my radar. Youth is where it’s at, not older age. So honor those who are older.

Honor those in authority at work, 1 Timothy 6 tells us to do that. Honor our church leaders, 1 Thessalonians 5:12 tells us Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. 

The elders  are worthy of double honor, 1 Timothy 5:17. And then one of the emphasis of the New Testament is honoring government officials, which it would include the police as well. Give respect and honor to those who are in authority. 1 Peter 2:17, Honor everyone, love the brothers and sisters, fear God.And then what does Peter write to the persecuted church? Honor the emperor.

And then finally, to bring this home, thinking about that we want to outdo one another in showing honor to each other. That’s seeing another person that we might walk by on the street as someone for whom Christ died and is worthy of our esteem. A brother or sister for whom Christ died.

I know this is a short sermon on a large topic. Let me just give you a couple of applications that I see. First of all, Isaiah says this: Because you are precious in my sight and honored, I love you. Jesus took on dishonor so that he might make us vessels of honor. He has taken that dishonor, he for whom everything was created, suffered the mocking and the shame so that God might turn you into a vessel of honor. 2 Timothy calls you that. You’re a vessel of honor.

Second application: I’ve talked about it before, that as parents we want to raise our children to honor and respect us and respect others in authority. Young people, if you’re listening to me, God says, not your parents, God says honor your parents.

One of those things that’s difficult for adult children is how do we still honor our parents, even if they’re difficult. So it may not mean we obey them. In my case, I ended up staying in New England to pursue the gospel. But it does include thinking about, What does honor look like? Even with difficult parents. I was just on the phone this week with a man out of state- none of you know him- but his wife’s mother had abused his wife and his brother in law. And they were, they were trying to hold appropriate boundaries by figuring out what does it mean to love her. And he just related in tears how because she had not repented, they still could not move forward, but he was trying. He had not, like my friend’s child, sort of written her off.

Two other applications. One is, I think in church, Proverbs 20:9 says, The glory of young men is their strength, the splendor of old men is their gray hair. One has strength without wisdom, the other has wisdom without strength. Churches need both leadership. And I know I’m excited for the renewal that’s taking place in New England with young leaders. But I’ve also seen, in other churches, the harm that comes for young leaders. So we need both.

And lastly, just thinking about our country, I want to encourage us to honor those who’ve come before us in a godly way. Self-critique and improvement are Christian values, but not in a way that shows dishonor and ingratitude. An aspect of love is honoring. Honoring those who’ve gone before us, honoring our leaders, ultimately honoring the Lord. Let me pray.

Lord Jesus, we stop and acknowledge that you are the one who is esteemable. You are of the greatest worth, and we will be declaring forever that you are worthy to receive all praise and glory and honor. Thank you, Lord, that you’ve taken our shame. You made us vessels of honor because of the one who became dishonored for us. And so, Lord, I pray as we live more and more counter-culturally in a world that’s turned in on itself, Lord, to help us to be a people that honors our own leaders here, and honors other leaders in a way that’s appropriate, not not blind obedience, but in a way shows that we know that you’re our ultimate King. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You’ve been listening to the Disciple-Making Parent podcast. For more information about the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, visit thedisciplemakingparent.com.