Honor vs. Respect

Greetings,

I recently wrote a post on the Rebelution forum in reply to a question about respecting and honoring our parents. I thought you all would like to read it as well.

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Respecting and honoring your parents is inextricably connected with obeying them. To refuse to obey is to refuse to honor and respect them as God commanded. This is because they are our God-given authorities, and to reject that authority is to dishonor them. This only changes when they are no longer our authorities (i.e. after marriage), and thus honoring and respecting them no longer requires obedience.
But for now, obedience is crucial. And rebellion is to be rejected with all diligence. I talk about rebellion further in a blog post I did on my blog a while back, check it out if you want my biblical case on the issue.

I just wanted to make that point, because so many people think they can just “respectfully decline” to obey their parents when they disagree with them. You can’t. It is an oxymoron.

What are some areas that you struggle to respect your parents in?

I used to struggle to respect my parents in everything, in anything. I was horribly, wickedly rebellious, and took every opportunity to live it out. When I became saved, my life radically changed, and I devoted myself to respecting and honoring and obeying the authorities in my life, particularly my parents. It was the first stronghold in my life that I conquered for Christ, and I am ever thankful that I did.

God has given me victory in this area, almost completely. I still have qualms where I see their mistakes and humanness and want them to do better, but I turn it over to God and pray for them. But primarily, I focus on the huge, incredible, vast majority of things that they have done for me, and which God has blessed me with in them. Their few weaknesses are nothing compared to the evil that still lurks in my life.

How are you striving to not only respect your parents, but go a step farther and honor them?

There is an important difference between respect and honor.

You can and should respect all men: because it simply means to give due diligence to them. You give them the regard due them as a human being to measure their worth, and then give them that level of value. You examine their wisdom, to see how much credence you should attach to their counsel. You examine their strength, to see how much trust you can impose upon them. You examine their love, to see how much you can open yourself up to them.

(Respect can also mean to give credence to someone, which is synonymous with honor. That definition is used in the Bible several times, but this is not the primary definition, and not the one that is contrasted with honor, because it is identical with it.)

Honor means to reverence, to submit yourself to, to treat with deference and dignity. It means to show respect, and to give value to the other person regardless of whether they deserve it or not.

God commands us to honor our parents, because they are our parents. That is all the credentials they need to merit our honor. To judge them worthy of less than honor is to put yourself above them and God, which is rebellion, and hateful to God.

My pastor once said that you can only honor your parents to the depth that you honor God! How are you going to draw closer to God so that you can honor your parents on a whole new level?

This is absolutely true. You cannot give something you do not have: and the only source of true love is God. And since you get love from God to give to others by loving God, and since honor is a form of love (i.e., charity in 1 Cor. 13), we cannot show true honor unless we honor and love God.

And we definitely cannot honor and respect and obey our parents when it is hard for us to do so without His divine strength and help.

Matthew 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others?] do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

If we are to love those who hate us and who are our enemies, how much more should we love our parents, who give themselves for us daily? What excuse do we have?

None.

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2 Responses

  1. Well said. I always find much more peace and enjoyment knowing I’m doing the right thing and am in my parents favour, rather then doing something my own way and feeling their displeasure.

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