It was a beautiful Sunday in August, about 7 years ago. We had hosted our traditional family lunch after church. The afternoon passed leisurely with outside play, reading, bike riding, naps, & dessert thereafter. Steve & I decided to take our 2 youngest grandbabies, 16 months & 9 months, for a walk around the lake. We put them in strollers & walked the short block to an all-round favorite Sterling destination.
Early Fall is also freshman orientation, at the college, so it wasn’t unusual to see many young, unfamiliar faces about town. We were walking, side by side, on the sidewalk that outlines the entire park, chatting away & enjoying the reactions of the babies. A glance ahead showed 25-30 freshman guys, walking 2 abreast, & coming straight for us. Since we had babies in tow, I erroneously assumed they would be gentlemanly & chivalrous & step to the side. Contrary to my expectation, the entire group just kept-a-coming at a fast pace, until Steve & I literally were forced to peel the strollers off the sidewalk, in opposite directions, & onto the grass. I don’t think we said anything. We were too shocked at being “swoooshed” by the breeze of their fast passing. At the very end of the line, one young man deliberately stepped off the sidewalk, & indicated with his arm movement that he wanted us to continue. We expressed our thanks & did so. (His Mama raised him right! 😊) I turned to Steve & said, “Wow! We’re in trouble. That’s who’s going to be in charge when we’re old!”
Some of you might think I over-reacted in the lake situation. But present attitudes don’t hold a candle to past practices. In recent years, I’ve become increasingly befuddled, & disheartened, by evidence that the principle of honor, as a guidepost in our culture, has almost vanished. My parents lived out honor. It didn’t really matter what side of the tracks you were from. Dad & Mom valued all people, pretty much treating everyone the same. The most significant honor impression they left on me was how they responded to my grandparents, exhibiting love, concern, availability & service--all the time. It seemed natural to them. They didn’t make a big deal about it nor did they complain that they were inconvenienced-- which I’m sure they were on occasion. Back then, it was the right thing to do, to watch out for the 2 people who gave life to you. Mind you, they were raising their own kids & had their own family challenges. But I witnessed honor as the norm, not the exception. More was “caught” than taught in learning this lesson, because my folks didn’t push it on us or toot their own horn. I simply watched them live it.
My inquiry of the Biblical view of honor revealed that honor is referenced130 times in the Bible. Honor is both a verb (action) & a noun (attitude) & means to esteem or highly regard; merited respect. Those worthy of it are God, Christ, parents, the aged, & church officers. Honor is obtainable by being wise, gracious, disciplined, humble, peaceful, merciful & righteous, by honoring God & by serving Christ. In the Bible, people were advanced to positions of honor. (Read the stories of Joseph, Joshua, Solomon, Daniel & the apostles.) I grew up honoring parents, pastors, teachers, policeman, the office of the President, city officials, & specifically, the elderly…. to name a few. As the norm, you didn’t call your friend’s parents by their first names, mock officials, bad-mouth the President, disregard the elderly, or speak disrespectfully to your pastor. Honor recognizes merited position. If position isn’t honored, it follows that the authority given to that position likely won’t be well received either.
God is all about honor. He has operated under the principles of honor & authority since the beginning of time. It’s who He is. When Satan thought too much of himself & tried to take over, God booted him out of heaven. (Isaiah 14:12-15) When Adam and Eve dishonored God by their disobedience, they too were removed from the Garden of Eden. Pharaoh learned the hard way that you don’t mess with God Almighty. The Bible is full of life lessons about honor. And though not popular in our post-truth society, God’s position & directives remain alive & well. He doesn’t need our approval. It’s simple really. He is God. We are not. You can argue until you’re blue in the face. It won’t change Truth. Bringing this a little closer to home, the sum total of honoring God means recognizing that He established all authority. Resisting what He’s set up can bring a heap of unnecessary trouble into our lives. (Romans 13:1&2) Secondly, if you combine the principles in Ex. 20:12 with the directives Ephesians 6: 2&3, you will see that honor was meant to be a way of life. Paul notes that honoring parents is the first commandment given with a 2-fold promise-- a well-lived life, & a long life. Clearly God set this honor/authority flow in motion for our protection & blessing and, for His glory.
When I see the lackadaisical attitudes expressed toward parents and/or grandparents today, I’m not particularly looking forward to being “really old” & less able-bodied, with apparent value lost because I can’t deliver like I used to. In general, honor is a lost passion & a rapidly fading practice. There are a lot of takers in the generation under me, & not a whole lot of givers who even want to embrace Biblical guidelines for relationships. And by default, their children follow. Over time, they become less interested, or involved, with older folks that no longer serve their purposes. Like the Coke commercial touted during the Olympics, whatever it is you want to be, just be it! And whatever you want to do, just do it. BECAUSE YOU CAN! (My take on it.) The underlying pitch was selfishness… & testified to how far off course this self-focused, me-me-first attitude has gotten us. The bottom line is…we’re in trouble, not only because God’s design isn’t followed, but primarily because GOD HIMSELF is no longer honored.
Fence sitting is not an option. I have hope because God is sovereign & on His throne. No one will miss that fact, in the end. You either believe what He says, or you don’t. Secondly, I believe that God wants me to live out/model the Biblical principle of honor, starting with Him, extending to the family structure on down, all anchored in Jesus Christ as my LIFE. I lost my grandparents & parents “early” by normal standards. I still honor them, & others like them. If you still have yours, don’t take these relationships for granted. It’s not too late to be a God-honoring example in your spheres of influence. Our lives always tell a story. What’s yours?