Perhaps, one might think it is difficult to give honor to someone whom we think doesn’t deserve it. It can be hard to treat someone with respect when they act disrespectfully. Who wants to give honor to someone who holds an opposing world view? Who wants to treat someone well who simply irritates you? Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NASB). Furthermore, Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NASB). That’s true spiritual warfare folks!
Have you considered that by giving honor to someone who has not been exactly honorable, you are extending mercy? You actually are revealing the love of the Father. By treating people with respect, you can actually help elevate them to a place of honor. It positions you to have access to their heart because they are more willing to listen to you than those who treat them with disrespect. If you have their ear, you may be able to gain their heart for Jesus. While it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin and convince them they need a Savior, we do co-labor with Him. If you want to harden someone’s heart, treat him or her disrespectfully. That disrespect influences others toward hell; not heaven! How honorable were you before meeting Jesus? This is where “judge not” comes into play.
James 1:27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (NASB). The King James Version renders the word orphan as “fatherless.” Generally, we tend to think of orphans in terms of those who lost their natural parents, or in this case their fathers. But let’s take this a step further.
Those who don’t have Jesus don’t have the Father. They are Fatherless.
They’re orphans, and those who are less than honorable have an orphan attitude (orphan spirit). They can’t help it because they cannot help themselves. Even some believers have the same attitude because they are clueless about their identity in Christ Jesus. They don’t know the ways of the Kingdom. Simply put, if you want to elevate people to a higher place, love them where they are at. Don’t wait to love them until they get into position; they’ll never reach it apart from love.
As believers, we are supposed to influence society.
Jesus went as far as to say, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19, NASB). Without honor, it’s not going to happen. No matter what level you try to influence (individuals, neighborhoods, towns, cities, governments, etc.), by maintaining an oppositional posture (which includes the “us versus them” mentality), you will never do it. At least for the Kingdom of God. If we attack people because of ideology, they will go on the defensive. They’ll head the opposite direction when they see us coming. Worse still, we discredit God by not representing Him well. Attacking people in the name of defending the faith, opposing evil and wrongheaded worldviews is not mercy. Yes, speak the truth, but do it in love. That means you actually have to have their best interest at heart. What’s the goal, proving you’re right or winning souls? An unsaved soul will never have a Kingdom perspective. We need dialogue; not debate. There has to be a willingness on their part before people will actually listen to us.
Look at a couple of biblical examples: Joseph and Daniel. Both influenced nations by honoring those in authority. Because Joseph refused to retaliate against Potiphar and Pharaoh, God opened the door to him to rule over Egypt as Pharaoh’s right hand (read Genesis 37-50 for the complete story). Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar well, even though by virtue of conquering Israel, he more than likely killed members of Daniel’s family. He most certainly did his fellow countrymen. He treated the king with the utmost respect, and perhaps even love. If Daniel would have treated Nebuchadnezzar with contempt, he would have never influenced him. Read the book of Daniel and see how he interacted with those in authority in Babylon. There are righteous ways to combat ungodly worldviews and policies, but that’s another lesson in itself.
By extending honor, we are extending mercy.
When we act respectably, we extend mercy to those who need it, simply because we elevate them into a position they don’t deserve, just as we were elevated when we didn’t deserve it. That’s grace in action. Honoring those with whom we have difficulty requires the grace of God. His grace enables us to extend mercy, so ask for the help in the time of need. Remember, by honoring others, doors open to speak into their lives, whereby they find grace as the result of extended mercy. By that grace, they can be transfigured into vessels of honor. This is especially true for the lost to whom we are called to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We triumph over their sin by extending mercy, and bring them into an honorable place.