“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare…There are no ordinary people.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)
I feel helpless trying to mine through my thoughts, searching for a path to begin this discussion. It’s something so ethereal and vaporous. I keep diluting my thoughts for the finest way to say it. This thing society has lost sight of, and those closest to me seem to misunderstand. And all because of fear and pride! We believe this thing must be earned and withheld if we don’t feel it strongly given by others.
As if Honor were ever something we deserved.
Ha! What jest! And we know ourselves best to know that honor is far from what we deserve. Nonetheless, we demand it from everyone and withhold from even more. And yet only until we know the power it holds when given away will we be free to walk in its glory. Honor. Honor. A word that cannot be judged or understood by mere words or actions. It is felt in the soul, the core of a man—both when given and received. And in the core does a man know when something is anything but honor.
I cannot define honor. But I can point out what it is not, and perhaps, in doing so, we can see the shadow of what it is.
My dog is not loyal, she is honorable. She is beyond loyalty. She sees the strength in her master and comes to my side regardless of my will. She waits for me, rests by me, attunes her focus to the presence of my power, guides her actions by my locale. She honors me with her attention and obedience. Her focus may be on the wind, birds, lizards, smells, and sounds, but her presence is at my side, because to leave it, would dishonor me.
My heifer does not honor me. She merely respects me. She comes seeking food, and would push me down if she thought I wouldn’t stop her. It is my forceful hand that beats her, pushes her to submission, and she allows me to lead her. But she would not obey if I ceased to exist.
My dog would lie at my corpse, waiting for my resurrection. My heifer would trample me and move on.
When I think of Honor, my mind races to films like The Last Samurai. It’s beautiful, and yet completely fictional. Westernized fantasies of what Bushido was, keeping it safe from the suicide, depression, betrayal, and ugliness riddled throughout. None of that film happened, regardless of how magnificent Ken Watanabe’s performance is: “Beautiful.” And it is magnificent. Or perhaps I think of Samwise’s devotion to Frodo. The camaraderie between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. The love of David and Jonathan.
Honor begins and ends with seeing a person the way God sees them. Not based on what they do, but who they are. Not earned. Given.
And Paul tells us to take delight in doing this with genuine affection.
Honor is not about being right. It has nothing to do with that. Nor does it have to do with vindication or justification. Therefore, manipulation must be far from it. Honor is not saying a magic spell in order to get what you want from someone (Oh, how I have witnessed!). It is not pride, or envy, or strife.
I watch those who “honor” a person by keeping their mouth shut of the Truth, because fear has taken hold of them.
I see others “honor” someone by publicly shouting admiration for a person or peoples, but in private, vitriol and gossip drip from their lips.
I hear some quote “[they] Honor the position, but not the person.”
These things are not Honor. You are not the faithful and loyal dog. You are the compliant heifer.
You cannot force a man to honor. No matter how much eloquence you write on the teleprompter.
For Honor is not mere words or actions. It is the thing birthed inside of the soul that only God can see. No man knows what Honor is. But every man understands it when it finally comes upon him.
Honor is given to a person, whether they are right or wrong, not because of right or wrong, but because they are God’s Child.
Honor does not mean Trust or Truth. It is regardless of Trust. It is given whether Trust inhabits the relationship or not. And it will not determine whether I trust you or not. Therefore, Honor does not equal obedience. It is deeper than that still.
Honor looks past the surface and outcome, and sees a person the way God sees, and treats them as such. When that view inhabits your heart, then any and all decisions, actions, words, and feeling must—not “will”, but must—be made from a holy reverence. You will be slower, kinder, gentler, more honest, more forgiving, more loving. Thus, more honorable.
And seeing a person the way God sees them includes seeing yourself the way God sees you. As a child. An heir apparent. Unworthy, yet worthy. Foolish, yet wise. Marred, yet “Beautiful”. Is sin not merely the act of dishonoring yourself and others? Therefore, Honor is living the life God intended, separate from sin, and it begins with seeing us as God sees us.
Oh, to be separate from this sin—but that would mean to never fear what others think or what could unfold. To honor someone truly would be to shout from the rooftops of their glory, with no care of the fallout. How I wish we honored others so well. That when one comes or goes from our lives, we don’t hold the sin or shortcomings up close to our eyes, but we hold the beauty and grace God has given us by seeing again someone made in His image. And one day—one day!—we won’t care what each of us thinks, we will only care who each of us is.
To Honor a soul is to see it as God does, and recognize that there are no ordinary people. Each of us is walking to damnation or the Heavenly Host. And what we do with Honor will determine much of that outcome.