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What Honor Really Is

Jonathon M. Seidl

April 04, 2024 | 2 minute read

This month, we’re unpacking the theme of honor. Light topic, I know! But what really is honor?

As I thought through and prayed about it, I landed somewhere I didn’t quite expect: Honor at its core is respect, and respect isn’t reliant on our feelings. Here’s the thing: We live in a world that idolizes feelings. Whatever you feel, we’re told, is what is true. That’s dangerous. Sure, your feelings may be real – you may actually be feeling a certain way – but that doesn’t mean it lines up with the truth. 

But feelings are fleeting. They change with the wind. One day you could be feeling X, only to wake up the next and be feeling Y. So to base honor on our feelings is a mistake. 

Honor is bigger than our feelings, then. Respect is bigger. It’s more encompassing. It’s based on truth. Respect says, “I can disagree with you but still honor you.” 

Think about that for a moment. You can respect someone – you can honor them – without fully agreeing with them. In the end, isn’t that the golden rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Offer people respect even if you can’t fully align with them, because you would want the same, right? 

For example: 

  • You can honor (respect) the office of, say, the president without agreeing with all his decisions or policies.

  • You can honor the soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while disagreeing with the conflict they’re involved in.

  • You can honor your spouse even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on a particular household issue. 

  • In fact, you can honor your parents even if they’ve messed up or you don’t agree with them. 

I’ll be talking about that last one a little more in a few weeks, but I think that offers one of the most practical examples for us, if only because one of the more popular Bible verses that a lot of people can recall is to “honor your father and mother” (Ephesians chapter 6, verses 2-3).

Certainly, that doesn’t mean “agree with everything they say.” That’s an impossible standard. My children seem to rarely ever agree with what I say or tell them to do. And yet, they respect me. They may not like what I say, but they do it (most of the time). Why? Because honor is demonstrated in obedience. 

Again, you can express your feelings about something and still obey (like in the case of my children, or the case of a military general carrying out the orders of the president). You can express your frustration with someone and still listen to them. You can voice your displeasure and disagreement and still carry on. 

Why? Because honor isn’t based on feelings. It’s an action. 

That brings me to the final point. The most important person we can honor in our lives is God, the creator of the universe, and of you and me. If honor is respect and obedience despite our feelings, then honoring God looks like obedience to him despite what we may be feeling. 

Here’s why that’s so beautiful: God knows we have feelings, questions, ideas. He created us to have those. In fact, he doesn’t force us to obey him. Instead, he wants us to obey him willingly. He wants to woo us to himself. He wants our respect, not out of force but out of love.

You know what that means? We can have feelings about what he says. We can be conflicted; we can be scared; we can be confused; and we can articulate those to him. And do you know what one of the highest forms of honor, of respect, is? To have those feelings and still do what he says. 

Friend, bring your questions to God. Bring your frustrations. Bring your reservations. He wants those! When you respect him enough to obey him despite those things, you actually pay him the highest honor. And can I be really honest with you? Honoring God in that way changes you. It’s changed me. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. Seidl

Jonathon M. (Jon) Seidl is a writer, speaker, and digital media strategist. He’s the author of the #1 bestseller, Finding Rest: A Survivor’s Guide to Navigating the Valleys of Anxiety, Faith, and Life.

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