“Honor, what is it? Who deserves it? How do you give it?”

King David’s call in 2 Samuel for Mephibosheth to come before him struck fear in Mephibosheth’s heart because he was the grandson of Saul, the previous King of Israel who had tried to kill David.

However, David did the unexpected and honored Mephibosheth, even having him sit at the King’s banquet table. David did this, not because of who Mephibosheth was, but because of whom he represented. He was the son of Jonathan, whom David loved as his own soul.

We honor a person based on our perception of his or her importance, or the importance of those they represent. In David’s command, the Greek word for honor is “Timao.” It means, “To prize, i.e., fix a valuation upon. By implication to revere, honor or value.”

Reverence for others grows out of a proper fear of the Lord since He is the One who created all men and established structures of authority. Therefore, true honor is actually based on our perception of the power, majesty and holiness of God.

Reverence for God should cause us to honor every person as a representative of God. Why, because He created them in His own image and has placed them in our lives for our benefit. On this basis God instructs us to, “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
I Peter 2:17

Personal greed and pride destroy our ability to honor God, or those who represent Him. In Mark 12, Jesus explains this truth in a parable about a wealthy master who sent one of his servants to a distant vineyard that he owned.

The tenants who were caring for the vineyard beat the servant and drove him away rather than honoring him as the representative of the master and giving him the fruit of the land. The master continued to send servants to the vineyard. However, they experienced the same abusive disrespect.

Finally, the master sent his beloved son, expecting the son would meet with respect. However, the wicked tenants said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.” Mark 12:7.

Because of their failure to honor the authority that the servants and the son represented, the wicked tenants were put to death when the master returned.

We are not born with a natural tendency to honor God, or others. We learn honor by learning to fear the Lord. Giving honor does not depend on the worthiness of the recipient. Rather, it is a voluntary decision placing unconditional value upon a person because of whom he or she is, or whom he or she represents.

Parents are a gift to us from God. Not only did God create them, but also because they were chosen to be the ones to bring us into the world and entrusted with the responsibility of training us in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Sometimes it is difficult to honor our parents because they make decisions that seem to be illogical. When this happens, we should ask ourselves, “What is God trying to tell us through them?”

Honor begins by honoring our parents. It was the first commandment that was accompanied by a promise. We must also honor our spiritual leader, the one we call “pastor,” given by God in Hebrews 13, because they, “Watch for our souls.” Government leaders, according to Romans 13, should be honored. The text says they, “Don’t bare the sword in vain.”

Ask yourself, “If I were to view every valuable person in my life as a personal representative of God, how would it affect my attitude and behavior toward them?”