The Significance of Honor
By Dr. Jay Zinn
The members of Bethel Church in Redding, California believe that cultivating honor is the secret to their success, both as a vibrant congregation and as a light to their community. This has merit because God’s presence is evident through their many giftings and joy is their strength. Joy. That’s something that happens when people value, honor and respect each other. But what does it mean to honor?
“Honor” is defined in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament as a weighty presence, majestic, dignity, value, a precious possession, ornamental splendor, glorious, magnificence, extreme greatness, and beauty.
Honor is defined in the Greek language of the New Testament as to value, to prize, to revere, glory, dignity, to esteem in the highest degree, to hold in the highest regard, to show respect, a precious valuable.
To put this in a sentence—when I honor people in the biblical sense, then I accurately acknowledge the gifts and divine design of God’s image in them.
I dignify their gift and identity through receiving their glory (gift) as a gift to me and the body of Christ. When I do this, a weighty presence of God’s splendor and grace is released upon them to dispense their gift to others. Jesus affirmed this idea when he said, “If you receive a prophet because he is a prophet, then you’ll receive a prophet’s reward (Matthew 10:41).”
What happens when you live in an environment, community, family, workplace, or congregation that has come to know, love, value, respect, and tap into your God-given gifts? It puts a demand on your gift to be stretched and grown. It causes the anointing on that gift to grow. Those who receive your gift and tap into it are honoring your gift. It becomes your glory. God’s glory upon you. And that produces joy in you and a significant sense of fulfillment through helping others. Those who honor you in this way receive the reward or benefit of your gift. That’s why the statement Jesus made about prophets makes sense. He himself was a prophet and he knew that when people received him as such, they drew virtue out of him.
In Matthew 9:1, the woman who touched his garment expected to receive. She valued his anointing, his glory and received the reward. The centurion honored Jesus through his faith in the Lord’s ability to just give the command and his servant would be healed back home. He honored the Lord’s anointing and received the reward (Matthew 8:5-13). The citizens of Jesus’ home town in Nazareth did just the opposite. They did not value, respect or dignify the glory Jesus carried and therefore did not receive the reward they could have had. They showed him no honor (Mark 6:1-6). Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” And he could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them—amazed at their lack of faith.
Dishonor is a lack of faith in what God can do in and through a person. This is why I endeavor to show honor to everyone’s grace and gift by commenting on it, acknowledging and applauding it, and even purchasing something they made with their gift (if possible and within my budget). What I’ve done when I do this is honor that person. It encourages them. It brings out the best in them. It calls forth their gifts and graces and puts more of a demanding on their glory and anointing. I benefit, they benefit, and we all have joy. How many people had joy in Nazareth that day when they chose to not honor Jesus and the anointing he had? Only a few sick people. The less we honor, the less of God’s glory and weighty presence comes upon a community of people. If honor is sustained, then glory and a weighty presence are sustained. The more honor, the more glory. The more glory, the more joy. This will happen in our homes between husband and wife, parents and children, and siblings with siblings. It will happen in our leadership teams and church members. It is a simple formula of esteeming others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Gossip, backbiting, jealousy, and envy are the ingredients for a culture of dishonor. Dishonor will send the Holy Spirit away. The dove rests only on the shoulders of humility, not pride. An atmosphere of dishonor is the effect of pride. An atmosphere of honor is the effect of humility. Once honor permeates the atmosphere of a home, workplace, and congregation, joy will abound and attract people to the gospel and receive the weighty supernatural presence of God. The opposite is true in a place without honor. It repels people. It’s ugly and can be felt in the air because it welcomes demonic activity, which thrives on people who don’t value each other. Honor attracts the Holy Spirit. Dishonor attracts demons.
Here’s a list of people the Bible says we are to show honor that will draw out their glory:
1. Your father and mother (Ex. 20:12; Gen. 9:20-23; Mal. 1:6; Matt. 15:3-9; Eph. 6:1-3).
2. Your wife (1 Pet. 3:7).
3. Your husband (Eph. 5:33).
4. Those ordained to serve in the religious matters of God’s kingdom (Ex. 28:2-3; 40-41; 1 Tim. 5:17-20).
5. The elderly and the aged (Lev. 19:32).
6. Kings and governors (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 1 Pet. 2:17).
7. Prophets and five-fold ministers (Matt. 10:40-42; 13:54-57; 1 Tim. 5:17-20).
8. One another (Rom. 12:10-11; Phil. 2:3).
9. The parts of the body that we think are less honorable receive special honor (1 Cor. 12:21-26).
10. Apostolic representatives of the churches (2 Cor. 8:23-24).
11. Those who sacrifice and risk much for the work of Christ (Phil. 2:29-30).
12. Double honor for elders who direct the affairs of the church well (1 Tim. 5:17-20).
13. Those whose work is preaching and teaching (1 Tim. 5:17).
14. Those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord (1 Thess. 5:12-13).
15. Everyone (1 Pet. 2:17).
And here is how honor comes about:
1. It comes from God (1 Chron. 29:12; Ps. 8:4-5; 62:7; 84:11).
2. It comes from those who do good and righteous things (Est. 6:1-3; Prov. 21:21; Rom. 2:6-11).
3. Through being wise (Prov. 3:35).
4. Through humility (Prov. 18:12; 22:4; 25:27; 29:23; Matt. 23:1-12; Luke 14:7-11; 20:45-47; Phil. 2:3).
5. Through avoiding strife and quarreling (Prov. 20:3).
6. Through working for the honor of God (John 7:18-19).
7. By directing the affairs of the church well (1 Tim. 5:17-20).
In conclusion, ask yourself what part you can play in bringing honor to your spheres of influence. Do you compliment your spouse, point out their gifts to them and draw upon it? Do you compliment your children and draw out their gifts? Do you compliment your co-workers, employees, supervisors, church members, and spiritual leaders? Do you respect and value people in a way that makes them feel like they are appreciated by you? Do you seek to receive from their gifts and graces? Do you know that this works on unbelievers, too?
Start now to change the atmosphere where you live, so that the presence of God may come to rest on your shoulders and cultivate a place of peace and joy.