“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:16-17 (ESV)
I was at Lifetime the other day, and a big dude (almost as big as me) was wearing a military shirt that said, “Honor those who deserve it!” That caught my attention. At a very quick and visceral level, my mind could agree with that. “Yeah, only honor people that I ‘think’ act honorably or honor those that honor me. Honor people that I like, that like me or are like me and only honor those that act like me or those I agree with.” I quickly discarded that as I thought, “I don’t think that sounds much like Jesus. And whatever I sow I’m gonna reap. I don’t want that.”
And then I quickly thought, “Man, we have a lot of dishonor going on in our culture right now, don’t we?” Social media is a cesspool of tearing people down and dishonoring people we disagree with or are jealous of. Politicians dishonor one another all the time and disparage the other person just because they disagree. Cancel culture is rampant and we as Christ followers are no different. We treat people who don’t agree with our theology as less than or we diminish and disregard those that are different from us. We all do it all the time.
As Christ followers, we have the opportunity to share the gospel more powerfully and purposefully if we create the culture of honor that Jesus intended us to create. When we show honor, we show Jesus. Creating a culture of honor cannot be left to the subjectivity of the current culture. Honor is from God to all of us and must be displayed through us.
Anyone created in the image of God is deserving of honor. Peter says, “Honor everyone.” Not just some but all. All people are in the image of God, so all people deserve honor and dignity regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. The context of Peter’s words is reminding the people of God of our powerful identity in Christ. Thus, we can live freely showing that identity by showing people honor.
So what is honor and how do we create a culture of honor? Honor means “to give weight, to give value and esteem and dignity to others.” People, by the very nature of being in God’s image, deserve to be given “weight, value, esteem and dignity.” Again– even when they act dishonorably, and even when they don’t honor us.
Peter doesn’t stutter in his words– honor everyone. All people at all times. Choosing to honor doesn’t mean we will agree with people. It doesn’t mean we lay down and become doormats, and it doesn’t mean that we do whatever others tell us to do. But it does mean we will see people as Jesus sees them and sees us. It means that we will give dignity and esteem to others at all times.
Philippians 2 is such a strong reminder of how Jesus honors us. Paul reminds us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV) If Jesus honors, then so must we. So how do we do this? A couple things to apply in all of your relationships:
Honor sees people. Sees others as God sees them.
Honor shows grace. Remember the grace we’ve been given and give it away.
Honor calls out gold in others. For every one negative we call out in another, we should fill that with 5-6 life-giving pieces of gold about them.
Do conflict in love. When we do the first three things, we won’t avoid conflict and won’t do it in anger, but we’ll do so in love.
So let’s create a culture of honor in and through our lives as Jesus has done for us.
Pray with me: "Father, thank you that you showed me mercy when I do not deserve it. Thank you that you love me when I do not deserve it. Help me to show others honor and respect. Remind me that all people are made in the image of God and so have dignity. Convict me when I think less of others. Help me to walk that fine line of conviction and compassion. By your grace, grant me godly discernment to not tolerate sin while seeing the good, the true, and the beautiful in all things."