We learn how to honor God by practicing on our fellow (imperfect) humans. The act of honoring is very important. It is “the first commandment with a promise” (Ephesians 6:2). “Honor your father and your mother … that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:2-3). Honoring is directly linked to things going well for those in the Land of Israel, and by extension in whatever sphere of influence we are being given.
Conversely, since the opposite of honoring is rebellion, attitudes of rebellion and presumption prevent us from moving into the next stage of inheriting the Promised Land and the Promises: “… you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain” (Deuteronomy 1:43).
Rebellion far predates the modern era. “Son of Man, I am sending you to … a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me … to this very day” (Ezekiel 2:3).
More recently, in the 1960s, rebellion against the status quo in Western society went full throttle, with more than a fair share of Jewish participants. That rebellion is still going on all around the world, and has spilled over into additional arenas such as gender identity. Several generations have already grown up in cultures of dishonor. Very recently I was again taken aback at how the tendency toward dishonor rose up in me. I tried to find excuses and persuade myself it was something else, but the tendency to rebel is still alive and well – certainly in society, and even at times in us.
Now, to clarify, a willingness and desire to change the status quo can be positive and even righteous. However, as soon as it is combined with dishonoring others, building “my” ego and spurning all authority, the mixture becomes poisonous.
Many young people tend to rebel against the wise advice of their elders – as did the newly appointed king Rehoboam, son of Solomon. In the spurned advice of these elders we see what could have been a beautiful picture of mutual honor, humility and service: “If you will be a servant to the people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever” (I Kings 12:7).
This is a precursor of New Testament injunctions: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Messiah” (Ephesians 5:21 NIV) “… give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10 NASB).
It’s not too late. Let us practice honoring others and thus learn how to honor God. The outcome will be no less than length of life in the “Promised Land.”
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, June 2017, and reposted with permission.