Honor up, honor down, honor all around.

November 10-11, 2018
Love Won Another
Honor One Another


Honor one another. What does that mean? Why should we do it? Whom should we honor? And how do we do it? And what difference will it make?

Dr. John Gottman is one of the foremost authorities on what makes marriages succeed or fail. His work is based on extensive research at the University of Washington. He writes that one of the most consistent predictors of marriage failure is contempt—when couples speak to each other with disrespect and scorn. It’s toxic. Conversely, healthy marriages are built on high doses of respect and honor.

What is true of marriage is true of every relationship. Relationships thrive when we honor and respect each other, and they wilt under the deadly weight of contempt.

Romans 12:10 (p. 976) Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Other translations say

  • “Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV, CSB)
  • “Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.” (NCV)
  • “Take delight in honoring each other.” (NLT)
  • “Be the best at showing honor to each other.” (CEB)

Literally, the Greek reads, “in honor, going before one another.” The word “going before” means “to go before and show the way, to go before and lead”. Lead the way in showing honor. Outdo one another in giving honor.

Imagine a community in which everyone tried to outdo one another in showing honor and respect!

ILL: When Pastor Noel used to go to lunch with us, he always deferred to others and tried to take the back seat in the car. “You sit up front, please.” The rest of us followed Noel’s lead, and all deferred to each other. So it became a race to get to the back seat first. “You sit up front, please.” “No, you, please.” Some days we never left the parking lot because no one would get up front and drive! We were all trying to outdo one another in showing honor.

That’s a little crazy, but can you imagine how wonderful it would be if we all tried to outdo each other in showing honor!

Honor one another above yourselves. Let’s talk about what that would look like.

  1. Why honor others?

The word for “honor” in the Bible literally means “to value, to set a price on,” then, “to honor or respect someone”. So the root idea is about value. It means that you have assessed someone and found him or her valuable, worthy of respect and esteem, and then you treat them accordingly.

So, what does it mean to honor someone? It means I value you; I treasure you; I esteem you; and I treat you accordingly. That’s the idea behind this word “honor”.

What is it about others that we value, that would make us esteem them, value them highly? You tell me. (Please put the whole list up on the screen and I’ll talk them all.)

  • Abilities, gifts, and talents. The most obvious example of this is entertainers, whether movie or TV stars, musicians or athletes. We idolize our stars, even though their character might be far less stellar than their gifts.
  • Success in any endeavor brings respect. Climb a mountain, run a marathon, build a business, invent something useful. We honor successful people.
  • It’s sad and shallow, but it seems to be human nature to value people for their physical beauty.
  • We admire really smart people.
  • We value money and we tend to admire or respect people who have lots of it!
  • We honor people because of their position—I’m guessing most of you treat your boss with respect. However, some of this has been lost. I was at a rally in January where Cathy McMorris Rodgers spoke and she was treated very rudely. It used to be that she would be honored due to her position; sadly, people seem to think that if we disagree, I can treat you with disrespect.
  • We admire and esteem people who have sterling character. When someone keeps his word, your esteem for him rises. On the other hand, if someone lies to you, your respect for him plummets.

There are some reasons we honor or value people, some better than others. But all of them have one thing in common: they all leave some people out.

  • Not everyone has enormous talents and abilities.
  • Not everyone achieves great success.
  • Not everyone has eye-popping beauty.
  • Not everyone has enormous brains.
  • Not everyone makes tons of money.
  • Not everyone has a high position.
  • Not everyone has sterling character.

So what does everyone have that would make us value them? Is there anything that gives universal value? Is there any reason that we should value each person and treat each person with honor, dignity and respect?

There is one thing: each person is created by God and belongs to God.

Genesis 1:27 (p. 1) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You are an image-bearer of Almighty God, and deserve to be treated with honor. Turn to your neighbor and say, “You remind me of our Father.” Every human being—no matter how broken or sinful they might be—is made in God’s image and is worthy of honor.

Psalm 8:3–6 (p. 465)

3 When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels

and crowned them with glory and honor.

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

you put everything under their feet:

God has crowned human beings with glory and honor. We are a little lower than angels, the rulers of God’s creation. C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

Each person is not only worthy of honor because of being created in God’s image, but also because of how much God values you. The ultimate statement of your value in God’s eyes is that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to bring you back to Himself.

John 3:16 (p. 913) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

If value is determined by the price one is willing to pay—then God values you more than anything because the price He paid was His own Son. We read this in our Bible Reading Plan on Friday:

1 Corinthians 6:18–20 (p. 983) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

You were bought at a price—the highest price possible. Now you belong to God. Your value to God is expressed in the price He paid for you. When we see each person as God sees them, we will value them highly.

ILL: Ron Mehl told this story in his book, Meeting God in a Dead End. (I found out that it’s an urban legend, not a true story—but it’s still fun!)

A man named Bob went to a garage sale in Downey, Calif. He hadn’t seen anything that interested him and was about to leave when he spotted an old motorcycle in a back corner. It was beat up and obviously not in running order. He asked the owner if he wanted to sell, and for how much, and the guy said, “Sure, how about $35?” So Bob bought the bike and took it home.

A few weeks later, he decided to see what it would cost to restore the motorcycle. So he got the serial number and called Harley Davidson, and asked a rep there if they still made parts for this old bike. He gave the rep the serial number; the guy promised to check and call him right back. The phone rang, but it wasn’t the rep; it was a VP at Harley Davidson. He asked Bob to repeat the serial number again. Then he asked him to go out and remove the seat and see if anything was written underneath. Bob wondered what was going on, but did what was asked, and returned to the phone. “Yes,” he said, “it does have something written there. It’s engraved, and it says, ‘The King’.” There was a moment or two of silence and then the VP said, “Bob, my boss has authorized me to offer you $300,000 for the bike. How about it? Do we have a deal?” Bob told him he’d have to think about it and slumped to the floor, stunned.

The next day, Jay Leno called. Jay Leno is a collector of rare cars and motorcycles. He offered Bob $500,000 for the bike, sight unseen.

You see, “The King” was Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley had loved Harley’s, so Harley Davidson had manufactured 3 motorcycles especially for Elvis. Bob had one of them, and it was worth at least $500,000!

The same bike: to one man, it was worth $35, to another $500,000. It all depends on what you see. To the man who sold it, it was just a piece of junk collecting dust in his garage. To Jay Leno, it was priceless because of who it had belonged to. It belonged to the King.

You belong to the King and are valuable to Him. And so does each person around you. That’s why we can and should treat each person with respect and honor.

What does it mean to honor someone? It means that we see them as God sees them and value them and treat them accordingly. We treat them as though they were valuable, priceless, and important, because they are, first to God and then to us.

  1. Who do we honor?

Well, we know from our text that we are to honor one another. But to put that into perspective, I wanted to quickly show you whom else the Bible tells us to honor. I’m going to fly through these Bible references, so we’ll put them up on the screen—references are on your outline.

  1. Honor God.

John 5:23 …that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

1 Corinthians 6:20 “Honor God with your body.”

1 Timothy 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.”

Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Honor is due first and foremost to God. We are to honor God.

  1. Honor family.

Ephesians 6:2 “Honor your father and mother.”

1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect (honor)…”

We are to honor our parents and spouses.

  1. Honor civic leaders.

Romans 13:7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

We are to honor our civic leaders.

  1. Honor spiritual leaders.

Philippians 2:29-30 Welcome him (Ephaphroditus) in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ.

1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

We are to honor our spiritual leaders.

  1. Honor one another.

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

We are to honor one another.

  1. Honor those who lack it.

1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (p. 988)

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

It’s been said that a culture can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The same is true of the church. The weak, the unpresentable, the ones who lack honor—these are to be given special honor, greater honor. We are to honor one another, giving special honor to those who most need it.

  1. Honor everyone.

1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

“Show proper respect” is the same word as “honor”. The same word is used for everyone as for the king: honor everyone just like you would honor the king.

And that’s why I just ran you through these verses. We are to treat everyone around us like we would treat God, or the king. Imagine how you treat people that you deeply respect.

  • How would you treat God if He walked in right now?
  • How would you treat a respected civic leader, or spiritual leader?
  • How do you treat your parents or your spouse?
  • How do you treat one another?
  • How do you treat everyone, including the weakest and most needy around you?

The Bible says that we are to treat all of them with honor. One friend of mine likes to say, “Honor up, honor down, honor all around.”

So how do we do it?

  1. How do we honor one another?

What does honor look like? How do we do it? Our first clue is to honor others as God has honored us or as we would honor God. Here are some practical ways to honor the people around you.

We honor one another with our words. Words of praise, appreciation, and thanks, words that express our esteem and respect.

ILL: Recently I was talking with someone in my office and I paid him a sincere compliment, pointing out something in him that I genuinely admired. I noticed a shy smile sneak across his face; he tried not to smile, but couldn’t stop himself. That’s the power of a genuine compliment. It feels so good that you can’t help but smile!

When someone pays you a compliment, praises you or thanks you, it makes you feel valued, honored. “A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae away from a kick in the pants, but it’s miles ahead in terms of results.”

But praise is even more powerful when it’s spoken in front of others. That’s the power of a tribute. Compliment someone privately and you have honored her; compliment someone publicly, and the honor is multiplied exponentially.

We honor one another when we ask for wisdom. How do you feel when someone asks for your advice or input or wisdom on a subject? “I’m honored that you would ask.” When we ask another for wisdom, we are honoring that person by acknowledging that they might know something we don’t or have insight that we have not yet gained.

The elderly are a rich resource of wisdom that many of us fail to appreciate. Leviticus 19:32 (p. 102) “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” The Hebrew word means “to honor”; honor the elderly—one way we do that is by seeking their wisdom.

ILL: Hugh Downs, long-time co-host of ABC’s 20/20, wrote this in his book Fifty to Forever.

Perhaps one day our culture will adopt what I found in Nepal. When meeting strangers, the polite thing to do is ask how old they are. Someone might say apologetically, “I’m only 50.” Whereupon the inquirer might say, “Oh, don’t feel bad. You’re getting there.” To call someone old is a compliment in Nepal. Solomon had it right when he said, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory.”

Honor one another by asking for advice or wisdom.

We honor one another when we listen. This is one of the greatest ways we honor one another. Listen. When I listen to you rather than talk about myself, I am honoring you above myself. When I listen to your opinions, I show that I value them, and you. And when I don’t listen, I dishonor you. When someone doesn’t listen, you think, “Why waste my breath?” You feel devalued, unimportant, dishonored.

ILL: Many years ago, Laina took our daughter Sally to the hospital for an outpatient surgery. While Laina waited in the waiting room, there was a worthless talk show on TV, so Laina asked an elderly lady sitting in front of the TV if she was watching it, and when she said no, Laina turned it off. The lady, whose name was Lois then came over, stood next to Laina and thanked her—it was too loud anyway, she said.

Then Lois started talking. She talked about her cataract eye surgery, where she went for the surgery, the process for the surgery, what time it started and that she was seventh in line but could have gotten in sooner if she had gotten there earlier in the morning, but she got there at 9. She talked about her new hearing aid, and how much the batteries cost and that they last for two weeks and she can buy them in packs of four. She talked about where she worked for 29 years, and that she wanted to work for 30 years but had to quit because of her health. She talked about her sister in Ohio, who takes care of her mom, and does the kind of work that she did for 29 years. She talked and talked and talked, and Laina listened.

When Lois was done talking, one of the volunteers came over and complimented Laina for listening so well. My wife is a great listener.

Laina told me that the experience reminded her again how many people are lonely and just want someone who will listen. Laina honored Lois by listening.

We honor one another when we defer to each other. To defer to others is to let them have their way. Rather than insisting on my way, I agree to yours. Most of the things we argue about are preferential: my preference versus yours. Will we eat here or there, go to this movie or that, leave early or late, paint the walls blue or chartreuse? Your way or mine? Your preference or mine? Those things aren’t worth fighting about.

Philippians 2:3-4 (p. 1012) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others.

We honor one another with our presence. That sounds terribly egotistical! I’m here; lucky you! But when someone I deeply value and respect spends time with me, I feel honored. There are few gifts more valuable than the gift of time.

ILL: My love language is words of affirmation—although my wife says my love language is being right! Can you guess what hers is? Quality time. The best gift I can give my wife is my presence—spending quality time with her.

There are people in your life that would feel honored to have your undivided attention, the gift of your time.

We honor one another when we help each other. Don’t you feel honored when people offer to help you? When you call someone on the phone and ask, “How are you doing?” you honor that person by your care. When you do some small but practical thing to help, you honor people.

ILL: I read about a lady whose father had just died. People had called offering help, but she didn’t know what to tell them. But one person had just shown up at her house and shined the whole family’s shoes before the funeral. She said that she would have never thought to ask anyone to do that, and she was so touched by the thoughtfulness. She felt valued, honored by the other person’s care and helpfulness.

We honor one another when we help each other.

We honor one another when we pray for each other. When someone lets me know that they are praying for me, I feel honored by that person. That they would take the time to pray for me tells me that they value me.

There are many ways to honor people. We’re going to take a moment to huddle up and ask each other, “What makes you feel honored and valued?”

How many of you could use a good dose of honor in your relationships? Here’s good news: Jesus isn’t just an ethical teacher who tells us what to do; He is our Lord who empowers us to do it! When you say yes to Jesus, He moves in; His Spirit lives within you and fills you with power to do what He says.


Honor One Another

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