What does it mean to honor someone? The dictionary will tell you that to honor is “to hold in high respect, to revere.” In one sense it is the recognition of and conformity to that which is held to be of superior worth. We honor our flag when we stand as it passes. We honor age by granting certain privileges. The gospels speak of “places of honor” at banquets where religious leaders loved to sit. However, when we speak of honoring God we mean more than courteous regard; we mean worship. Context determines the nature of our act of honor.
In the gospels, honor is used most frequently of proper respect for and appreciation of one’s father and mother (Matt. 15:4, 19:19; Mark 7:10, 10:19; Luke 18:20). The honoring of one’s parents is the first of the commandments with a promise: Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
But what does it mean on a practical level to honor one’s parents? While the question almost answers itself in families living out biblical principles day by day, but it is less clear when a parent has not fulfilled the accepted requirements of the role. For instance, how would one honor a father so addicted to some moral practice that children are left with a mother only or in some cases with no one. I believe God put man and women together as the way to propagate the human race but also to provide stability for society that allows it to function safely. The family is not an accident but part of a divine plan. Should society ignore God’s intent, it will only be a matter of time until chaos of every kind appears.
To honor God is to respect at the highest level who he is as sovereign Creator of all and what he has done to keep his own family intact by sending his Son to pay the price of their sin. In a world of conflicting morals, the role of honoring God has become confused. When society teaches that the days of holding to the active presence of a righteous God and the existence of unchangeable absolutes are on their way out, the role of honor and its place is being fatal undermined. Without honor at that level the future grows dim. However, such pessimism is out of place in the life of the believer. God has not and will not lose the struggle against evil. He created us for eternal fellowship and he is not about to give up. In fact, there are segments of today’s society where the nature of life is giving scientific and other intellectual leaders reason to reconsider such things as the sanctity of marriage, the necessary limitations of human thought and the very nature of life itself. Yes, God’s bright tomorrow may be rising. It will, of course, as every believer knows.