what is honor?
Honor is rare. It’s mostly associated with the military in today’s world. Many people know the word honor, but I believe it’s even more rare for people to understand what honor is. Some people will say that honor is gratitude, or obedience, or generosity. I say it’s all of these and much more. The Bible has two clear definitions for the word honor.
Old Testament - כָּבֵד // kāḇēḏ
A verb meaning to weigh heavily, to be heavy, to make dull, to let weigh down, to harden, to multiply.
1 Samuel 2:30 ESV //
“Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
Old Testament Honor - to give “weight” to.
If something is heavy, and weighty, we give pause and consider it. If a person is “worthy” of honor, they carry weight with us. We consider them, their words, and their actions. We see their suggestions as commands. We are obedient to the things that they cannot force us to do, but still must be done. When we give honor, we consider how what we do affects the weight that other people carry And we resolve to carry our weight and help carry their weight as much as possible.
NT - τιμή // timḗ
precious, price, value, an estimate of worth.
1 Timothy 5:17 ESV //
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”
New Testament Honor - to give “value” to.
If something is valuable and worthy, we treat it as such. When a person is honored, they are treated as valuable, special and precious. Honor is the opposite of contempt. To treat someone with contempt is to disparage and/or disregard who another person is. To see them as common and therefore worthless. Contempt is the foundation for dishonor. To honor is to esteem someone worthy of great respect and to treat them in a respectful way.
Diamonds are basically useless outside of industrial applications. They are not rare. They are priced beyond their worth despite how common they are. Diamonds have no real value outside of what we as humans decide. The Cullinan Diamond, or Star of Africa is the world’s largest diamond weighing in at 3106.75 carats. It is estimated to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million. It’s only worth $400 million because we treat diamonds special and precious. Although they have no right to be.
“We don’t honor because they are honorable. We honor because we are honorable.
// Keith Craft
A diamond represents honor. Our honor is how much we value something. The more honor we place on someone/something, the more that we treat them as valuable.
Dishonor happens to us when people treat us lightly. We dishonor people when we treat them lightly.
If I say that I have honor for my marriage, and for my wife, I will not disregard her. I will allow her words to “carry weight” with me and I will treat her as valuable. If I have honor for my children, I will value their needs and wants and make them feel important to me.
Many people live lives of dishonor because they treat everyone around them lightly. They don’t realize that disregarding people is devaluing them. And devaluing people is dishonoring them.
Understanding honor is just the beginning to learning how to honor. More on that another time.