Just yesterday morning I ran through our neighborhood in my pajamas and bedroom slippers—not my usual attire for running! You might ask why I would do such a thing. Well, I was chasing our little Jack Russell Terrier, Peanut. You see, she is very precious to me.
What would you do for someone or something that you consider precious? Protect? Nurture? Keep well maintained? We all invest a lot of time, thought, prayers, money etc. in caring for what we deem valuable to us.
Just recently I read Romans 12:10b: “…Honor one another above yourselves.” I had always thought this meant to give someone special recognition, respect, the best seating, compliments etc. In studying the word “honor,” I found out it meant “to value.” In 1 Corinthians 7:23a where it says, “You were bought at a price…” the word translated “price” is the same Greek word translated “honor.” Its root word is usually translated “precious,” of “greater worth” or “dear.” To honor one another is to treat each person as valuable, costly, precious.
Okay, that comes pretty easily with our immediate family members, our close friends, and (nice) managers or employers. But what about others? Romans 12:10 refers to the family of God, but in 1 Peter 2:17a (KJV) we are told to “honor all men,” and this is where it gets a lot more challenging. How are we to honor those people who really get on our nerves? Better yet, what about those people who are unfriendly, arrogant, and don’t like us? There is no distinction between honoring only those who bring value to your life and those who bring irritation.
One tip on how to value others (especially the “others” who really bother us) is first to realize that God demonstrated His love by having His Son, Jesus Christ, die for them, too (Rom. 5:8). We truly have to see people through God’s eyes, remembering that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim.2:4).
In Matthew 25:40a Jesus said, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” We can care for others for Jesus’ sake! People mean a lot to him. He gave his life for them. More than that, he says that caring for them equals caring for him! By the way, I used to think that the “least of these brothers” were only nice people (I have no idea why I came to that conclusion), but it doesn’t say that. In fact, some of them are in prison (v. 36), and maybe they did something really bad. Still, I’m to see them as valuable and precious. These are people for whom Jesus gave his life, and he says that in caring for them I care for him. Honoring people comes much easier when I realize just how costly they are.
Back to my first question: What would you do for someone or something that you consider precious? Since “to honor,” biblically, means to treat as valuable, it’s much more than just compliments and fanfare. Let’s go back to me chasing my dog through my neighborhood in my pajamas. Because I consider my dog valuable (although she didn’t cost a cent, she was a stray. Hmmm…), I put aside my desires and plans and sought after her welfare. My major concern was to protect her and bring her back to a safe and caring environment. To honor others is to be concerned about their welfare and seek to do what’s needed in helping them grow in a knowledge of God’s will, which by the way, is “good, pleasing, and perfect” (Rom.12:2)—much more than just safe and cared for! It’s also exhibiting their true value, living a life that is worthy (worthy implies a cost factor) of the Lord.
Now here’s the somewhat difficult part: each person is different and you’ll need to really seek wisdom in helping them. Of course, God does promise that He’ll give us wisdom generously if we ask (James 1:5). For example, if you know someone addicted to drugs, you would help them differently than you would a young child. Both are precious, but helping them grow in knowledge of God’s will would look different for either person. The key point is that “honoring each other” is seeing each other as precious (no matter how we may appear) and helping to bring out our true value. It might look like “running” after someone to protect him from harm, or it could look like not “running.” The idea is to seek God’s wisdom on how to care for each very precious person who crosses your path. In doing so you are honoring Christ Jesus. What a privilege, and what an honor!