Show Honor to Others
“In showing honor to one another take the lead.”—Romans 12:10.
1, 2. (a) What must we practice to show our lowliness of mind? (b) How does the Bible often use the word “honor,” and who find it easier to show honor?
OUR preceding article emphasized the counsel of God’s Word: “All of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.” (1 Peter 5:5) One way for us to gird ourselves with lowliness of mind is to practice showing honor to others.
2 The word “honor” is often used in the Bible to indicate the respect, esteem, and consideration that we should show to others. We honor others by being kind to them, respecting their dignity, listening to their viewpoint, being ready to fulfill reasonable requests made of us. Those who are lowly in mind usually will not find this difficult. However, those who are proud of heart may find it difficult to show genuine honor and may instead try to gain favors and advantages by insincere flattery.
Jehovah Honors Humans
3, 4. How did Jehovah show honor to Abraham, and why?
3 Jehovah himself sets the example in showing honor. He created humans with free will and does not treat them like mere robots. (1 Peter 2:16) For instance, when he told Abraham that Sodom was to be destroyed because of its gross wickedness, Abraham asked: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous men in the midst of the city. Will you, then, sweep them away and not pardon the place for the sake of the fifty?” Jehovah answered that he would spare the city for the sake of 50 righteous ones. Abraham then continued to plead humbly. What if there were only 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? Jehovah assured Abraham that he would not destroy Sodom if just ten righteous men were found.—Genesis 18:20-33.
4 Jehovah knew that there were not ten righteous men in Sodom, yet he honored Abraham by listening to his view and dealing with him respectfully. Why? Because Abraham “put faith in Jehovah; and he proceeded to count it to him as righteousness.” Abraham was called “Jehovah’s friend.” (Genesis 15:6; James 2:23) Furthermore, Jehovah saw that Abraham honored others. When a dispute regarding territory arose between his herdsmen and those of his nephew Lot, Abraham honored Lot by telling him to choose first the area he wanted. Lot picked what he considered the choicest land, and Abraham moved elsewhere.—Genesis 13:5-11.
5. How did Jehovah honor Lot?
5 Jehovah similarly honored righteous Lot. Before Sodom was destroyed, he told Lot to flee to a mountainous area. However, Lot said that he did not want to go there; he preferred nearby Zoar, although that city was in the area that was to be destroyed. Jehovah said to Lot: “Here I do show you consideration to this extent also, by my not overthrowing the city of which you have spoken.” Jehovah showed honor to faithful Lot by doing what he asked.—Genesis 19:15-22; 2 Peter 2:6-9.
6. How did Jehovah honor Moses?
6 When Jehovah sent Moses back to Egypt to lead His people out of slavery and to speak to Pharaoh about letting His people go, Moses responded: “Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker.” Jehovah assured Moses: “I myself shall prove to be with your mouth and I will teach you what you ought to say.” But Moses was still hesitant. At that Jehovah reassured Moses and arranged to send his brother, Aaron, with him as spokesman.—Exodus 4:10-16.
7. Why was Jehovah willing to honor others?
7 In all such instances, Jehovah showed his willingness to honor others, especially those who served him. Although what they asked for may have differed from Jehovah’s original intent, he considered their requests and made allowance for them as long as these did not violate his purpose.
Jesus Honored Others
8. How did Jesus honor a woman who was very ill?
8 Jesus imitated Jehovah in honoring others. Once in a crowd, there was a woman who had suffered a flow of blood for 12 years. Doctors had been unable to cure her. Under the Mosaic Law, she was considered ceremonially unclean and should not have been there. She got behind Jesus, touched his garment, and was healed. Jesus did not stand on the technicalities of the Law, scolding her for what she did. Instead, knowing the circumstances, he honored her, saying: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be in good health from your grievous sickness.”—Mark 5:25-34; Leviticus 15:25-27.
9. How did Jesus honor a Gentile?
9 Another time, a Phoenician woman said to Jesus: “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is badly demonized.” Knowing that he had been sent to the nation of Israel and not to Gentiles, Jesus said: “It is not right to take the bread of the children [of Israel] and throw it to little dogs [Gentiles].” The woman answered: “But really the little dogs do eat of the crumbs falling from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said: “O woman, great is your faith; let it happen to you as you wish.” Her daughter was healed. Jesus honored this Gentile because of her faith. Even his use of the expression “little dogs,” instead of referring to wild dogs, softened the matter and showed his compassion.—Matthew 15:21-28.
10. What powerful lesson did Jesus teach his disciples, and why was it needed?
10 Jesus kept teaching his disciples about the need to be lowly in mind and to honor others, since they still had the me-first problem. Once after they had had an argument, Jesus asked: “What were you arguing over?” They kept silent, for “they had argued among themselves who is greater.” (Mark 9:33, 34) Even the night before Jesus died, “there also arose a heated dispute among them over which one of them seemed to be greatest.” (Luke 22:24) So during the Passover meal, Jesus “put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples.” What a powerful lesson! Jesus was the Son of God, next only to Jehovah in all the universe. Yet, he taught his disciples an honorable lesson by washing their feet. He said: “I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.”—John 13:5-15.
Paul Showed Honor
11, 12. After Paul became a Christian, what did he learn, and how did he apply this lesson in connection with Philemon?
11 As an imitator of Christ, the apostle Paul showed honor to others. (1 Corinthians 11:1) He said: “Neither have we been seeking glory from men . . . To the contrary, we became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:6, 7) A nursing mother cares for her little ones. After Paul became a Christian, he learned to be lowly in mind and showed honor to his fellow Christians by treating them gently. In doing so, he also respected their free will, as was demonstrated by an event that took place when he was a prisoner in Rome.
12 A runaway slave named Onesimus listened to Paul’s teaching. He became a Christian as well as Paul’s friend. The slave’s owner was Philemon, also a Christian, who lived in Asia Minor. In a letter to Philemon, Paul wrote how useful Onesimus was to him, saying: “I would like to hold him back for myself.” Yet, Paul returned Onesimus to Philemon, for he wrote: “Without your consent I do not want to do anything, so that your good act may be, not as under compulsion, but of your own free will.” Paul did not take advantage of the fact that he was an apostle, but he honored Philemon by not asking to keep Onesimus in Rome. Moreover, Paul exhorted Philemon to honor Onesimus, treating him “as more than a slave, as a brother beloved.”—Philemon 13-16.
Showing Honor in Our Day
13. What does Romans 12:10 tell us to do?
13 God’s Word counsels: “In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Romans 12:10) This means that we should not wait for others to show honor to us first, but we should take the initiative. “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.” (1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Peter 3:8, 9) Thus, Jehovah’s servants look for opportunities to show honor to those in the family circle, to fellow Christians in the congregation, and even to those outside the congregation.
14. How is honor shown between husband and wife?
14 The Bible states: “The head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) Jehovah obligates the man to treat his wife as Christ did the congregation. At 1 Peter 3:7, the husband is directed to assign his wife “honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” He can do this by displaying a genuine willingness to listen and by taking his wife’s suggestions into consideration. (Genesis 21:12) He may give her first choice when no issue is at stake, and he does things for her and treats her kindly. In turn, “the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33) She listens to him, does not always strive to get her way, does not belittle or nag him. She shows lowliness of mind by not trying to dominate her husband, even when she has superior abilities in certain areas.
15. What consideration is shown to older ones, and how should they respond?
15 Within the Christian congregation, there are those who are particularly worthy of honor, such as older ones. “Before gray hair you should rise up, and you must show consideration for the person of an old man [or, woman].” (Leviticus 19:32) This is especially the case with those who have served Jehovah faithfully for many years because “gray-headedness is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness.” (Proverbs 16:31) Overseers should set the example by showing due regard for fellow Christians who are older than they are. Of course, aged ones too need to display a respectful attitude toward younger ones, especially those who share the responsibility of shepherding the flock.—1 Peter 5:2, 3.
16. How do parents and children honor one another?
16 Young ones should honor their parents: “Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous: ‘Honor your father and your mother’; which is the first command with a promise: ‘That it may go well with you and you may endure a long time on the earth.’” In turn, parents honor their young ones, for they are told ‘not to be irritating their children but to go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.’—Ephesians 6:1-4; Exodus 20:12.
17. Who are worthy of being accorded “double honor”?
17 Also to be shown honor are those who work hard at serving the congregation: “Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17) One way we can show them this honor is by doing what Hebrews 13:17 states: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive.”
18. What are we to do toward those outside the congregation?
18 Do we have to show honor to those outside the congregation? Yes. For example, we are instructed: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities.” (Romans 13:1) These are the secular rulers that Jehovah allows to exercise authority until his Kingdom replaces them. (Daniel 2:44) So we “render to all their dues, to him who calls for the tax, the tax; to him who calls for the tribute, the tribute; to him who calls for fear, such fear; to him who calls for honor, such honor.” (Romans 13:7) We are to “honor men [or, women] of all sorts.”—1 Peter 2:17.
19. How can we “work what is good” toward others and show them honor?
19 While it is true that we are to honor even those outside the congregation, note what God’s Word emphasizes: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) Of course, the best way that we can “work what is good” toward others is to cultivate and satisfy their spiritual needs. (Matthew 5:3) This we can do by heeding the apostle Paul’s reminder: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” When we tactfully utilize every opportunity to give a witness, ‘fully accomplishing our ministry,’ we are not only doing good toward all but also showing honor to them.—2 Timothy 2:15; 4:5.
20. What happened to Pharaoh and his armies, and why?
20 Jehovah honors his creatures. It is reasonable then that we should, in turn, honor him. (Proverbs 3:9; Revelation 4:11) Jehovah’s Word also states: “Those honoring me I shall honor, and those despising me will be of little account.” (1 Samuel 2:30) When Pharaoh of Egypt was told to let God’s people go, he arrogantly answered: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice?” (Exodus 5:2) When Pharaoh sent his armies to crush the Israelites, Jehovah parted the waters of the Red Sea for Israel. But when the Egyptians followed, Jehovah caused the waters to return. “Pharaoh’s chariots and his military forces [Jehovah] has cast into the sea.” (Exodus 14:26-28; 15:4) So Pharaoh’s proud refusal to honor Jehovah led to his disastrous end.—Psalm 136:15.
21. Why was Jehovah against Belshazzar, and what resulted?
21 King Belshazzar of Babylon refused to honor Jehovah. During a drunken feast, he mocked Jehovah by drinking wine out of the sacred vessels of gold and silver taken from Jerusalem’s temple. And while he was doing this, he praised his pagan gods. But Jehovah’s servant Daniel told him: “You have not humbled your heart . . . But against the Lord of the heavens you exalted yourself.” That very night Belshazzar was killed, and his kingdom was taken away from him.—Daniel 5:22-31.
22. (a) Why did Jehovah’s wrath come upon the leaders of Israel and their people? (b) Whom did Jehovah favor, and with what result?
22 In the first century C.E., King Herod was giving an address to the public, and they shouted: “A god’s voice, and not a man’s!” The vain king did not disagree but wanted the glory. At that, “the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give the glory to God.” (Acts 12:21-23) Herod honored himself, not Jehovah, and was struck dead. The religious leaders of that time had dishonored God by conspiring to kill his Son, Jesus. Some rulers knew that Jesus taught the truth but would not follow him, “for they loved the glory of men more than even the glory of God.” (John 11:47-53; 12:42, 43) The nation as a whole did not honor Jehovah or his appointed Representative, Jesus. As a result, Jehovah did not continue to honor them, abandoning them and their temple to destruction. But he preserved alive those who honored him and his Son.—Matthew 23:38; Luke 21:20-22.
23 All those who want to live in God’s new world after this present system is destroyed must honor God and his Son, Christ Jesus, and obey them. (John 5:22, 23; Philippians 2:9-11) Those who do not show such honor “will be cut off from the very earth.” On the other hand, the upright ones who do honor and obey God and Christ “are the ones that will reside in the earth.”—Proverbs 2:21, 22.
□ What does it mean to honor others, and how did Jehovah do this?
□ How did Jesus and Paul honor others?
□ Who are deserving of honor in our day?
□ Why must we honor Jehovah and Jesus?
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Jehovah honored Abraham by considering his pleading
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In successful marriages, husband and wife honor each other