It Does Not Dishonor Others

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

I Corinthians 13:4-5

What does it mean to honor someone?

“Regard with great respect”

“Pay public respect to”

“Fulfill an obligation or keep an agreement”

So to dishonor is the opposite

Regard with contempt

Shame in public

Choose not to fulfill an obligation

I have seen what honor looks like

In my parents

How they are well aware of the other’s faults

And yet each one loves the other still

Choosing to see the best in each other

Forgiving freely

Allowing offense to float away like a piece of driftwood

Giving and not demanding

I have seen what dishonor looks like

How they fixate on a fault

Choosing to see the worst in the other

Failing to forgive

Holding onto bitterness as if it were a life raft on a raging sea

Only it is an anchor pulling them down into the depths

Demanding and not giving

The command to honor our parents is what comes to mind first

When I think of honoring another

It should be the easiest thing to do

The people who birthed us and brought us up

Fed us and cared for us

Yet I have seen what happens when honor is forgotten

A bill left unpaid

I have seen parents bereft by children who literally hate them

I have seen the heartache when a parent who loves a child deeply is spurned

My parents were imperfect parents yet I honor them

Just as I am an imperfect parent and hope my children honor me

The Bible does not put a condition on this command

From other verses I know we are not called

To follow after ungodly counsel from parents

Or that we are required to obey them as adult children

Honor is not the same as obedience

And I know people who came from genuinely abusive backgrounds

Who have needed to distance themselves from unhealthy caregivers

Honor is not the same as enduring abuse

It does not mean we need to agree with someone politically or otherwise

Honor does not require agreement

Here, though, it is not talking about just parents

It is talking about others

That is a lot of people

Others is everyone

The guy who cut me off in traffic

The talking head on TV spewing nonsense

The crying child in the church nursery

The impatient nurse on the 11th hour of a 12-hour shift

I am not to dishonor any of them

I am not to show disdain

For the other who is, in fact, made in the image of God

A person for whom he died

This feels impossible

It is easy to show honor to the honorable

But to show honor and respect to others is hard

It requires forgiveness

And humility

An awareness of our own brokenness

Not possible without the cross

The kind that Corie ten Boom showed

Years after the end of the Holocaust

When faced with the guard who had worked at the concentration camp

Where she had endured such brutality and where her sister had died

This man who asked for her forgiveness

And she gave it

First in an act of obedience only

But then with a heart full of genuine forgiveness

For sometimes we must act in obedience first

Before we feel like it

It isn’t necessarily the dishonorable person I struggle to honor

On a day-to-day basis

It is often the person with whom I merely disagree

With my sister or brother

How dare we disdain someone for whom Christ died?

How dare we speak poorly of them?

Let go of the pride that lifts self up above others

That says to disagree with someone gives us the right to view them

As less than

How different would the world look

If Christians truly took this to heart?

Chose to build others up

Not tear them down

Chose not to disdain in words or actions

But chose honor instead

For a gentle answer turns away wrath

And love does not dishonor others

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