“…respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” (1 Thess 5:12-13)
Honour is the lifeblood of community and relationships. Without honour there is no ‘giving’ in relationships, and the place of honour is instead filled with the dead weight of alternative attitudes and opinions which pull down and keep the church’s common life at the low ebb of assumptions, pride, faint praise, cynicism, and independence.
The Scriptures are clear enough “Honour one another above yourselves,” (Romans 12:10) and, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17) There is an important place for honour in the Body of Christ, and doubly important towards spiritual leadership.
We cannot appreciate, respect, and honour leaders over us if we do not fully know them, understand them, and willingly share and participate in their works. Honour is also not honour unless it has a practical dimension. What are their needs? We must help to meet them. What are their struggles? We must carry the burden of prayer for them. What kinds of things do they like? We can seek to be a blessing to them. What kind of friendship and support would they appreciate? We must be there for them.
The literal meaning of the giving of honour is to add wealth. The literal meaning of the Greek word Paul used for honour, when he said the elders who direct the affairs of the church well are “worthy of double honour” is “diplous”, which refers to a value of money paid, and by analogy, to esteem of the highest degree. We should not be frightened to be personally very generous in our dealings with our spiritual fathers – and it is often the means of opening the heavens to our own blessing, as I have discovered.
But we should also be aware that by properly honouring those over us in our actions and speech, we are adding value to them in other ways. Our words and our attitude can make them richer than they were before. This is the principle of honour.
The Scriptures say that, “A son honours his father…” (Malachi 1:6) And in the life of Christ we see examples of His honour towards His father in Heaven by the way He lived, referred to, prayed to, talked about, and spoke highly of His Father in Heaven. We need to follow the example of Christ toward our spiritual fathers.
How did Timothy feel about Paul, and how did he serve him? How did Timothy “see” Paul? What were Timothy’s attitudes and values in serving Paul? What about Elisha towards Elijah? What about Joshua towards Moses? Was there honour in his heart towards him? The Bible shows us that Joshua served giving the whole heart being yielded, faithful, devoted, and a man of passion. (Exodus 24:13, 33:11, Numb 11:28-29, 27:18)
Do you think that Joshua, Timothy, or Elisha were any poorer for displaying honour? Do you think you will be poorer if you display honour towards your leaders and serve them? In addition, do you think your leaders will be richer as a result, and will be able to lead you better too?
There are other ways a son honours a father. A son is not ashamed of his father. A son honours his father by being teachable and by listening. A son thinks about what his father says and holds it in the heart as being important.
Consider honour. Consider Christ. Consider those over you in the Lord.