“To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever.”—REVELATION 5:13.
1. Why might some people deserve honor, and what will we learn in this article?
HOW do we show honor to people? We do this by giving them special attention and by showing them respect. Usually, we honor those who have done something to deserve honor or those who have an important assignment or position. In this article, we will learn whom we should honor and why.
2, 3. (a) Why does Jehovah especially deserve honor? (See opening picture.) (b) Who is the Lamb mentioned at Revelation 5:13, and why should we honor him?
2 Revelation 5:13 says that “the One sitting on the throne” and “the Lamb” deserve honor. “The One sitting on the throne” refers to Jehovah. In Revelation chapter 4, the creatures in heaven give us one reason why Jehovah, “the One who lives forever and ever,” deserves to be honored. They say: “You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.”—Revelation 4:9-11.
3 “The Lamb” mentioned at Revelation 5:13 is Jesus Christ. How do we know? When he was on earth, Jesus was called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) What other king has ever willingly died as a ransom for his subjects? That is certainly a good reason to honor him. Jesus deserves honor because “he is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords.” (1 Timothy 6:14-16) Maybe you feel as do the creatures in heaven who sing: “The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”—Revelation 5:12.
4. Why would it be wise for us to honor Jehovah and Christ?
4 John 5:22, 23 says that Jehovah has made Christ the judge of all humans. That is a main reason why we should honor Jesus. And when we do this, we also honor Jehovah. When we choose to honor Jesus and his Father, we can have everlasting life.—Read Psalm 2:11, 12.
5. Why do all people deserve a measure of honor and respect?
5 Humans were created “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) This means that most people have the ability to show qualities similar to God’s. For example, humans can show love, kindness, and compassion. Humans were also created with a conscience, a sense of what is right or wrong, honest or dishonest, appropriate or not appropriate. (Romans 2:14, 15) Most people like things that are clean and beautiful and want to live in peace with others. This is not surprising, because Jehovah is a God of order and peace. Clearly, all humans were created with the ability to imitate Jehovah in one way or another. For this reason, they deserve our honor and respect.—Psalm 8:5.
SHOW HONOR IN THE RIGHT WAY
6, 7. How are Jehovah’s Witnesses different from many people when showing honor to others?
6 We know that other humans should be honored, but it may be difficult to know what kind of honor to give them and how much. That is because most imperfect humans are strongly influenced by the attitudes in Satan’s world. Many people make men or women their idols. Instead of giving them honor and respect as Jehovah intended, people give other humans too much honor, treating them like gods. They may imitate the clothing, conduct, and behavior of political and religious leaders, athletes, movie stars, and other celebrities.
7 True Christians know that it would be wrong to honor humans to that degree. Of all the people who have ever lived, only Jesus set a perfect example for us to imitate. (1 Peter 2:21) We need to remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) No human deserves to be worshipped. When we give humans more honor than we should, this makes Jehovah unhappy.
8, 9. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view government officials? (b) When would we not obey officials?
8 There are some people who deserve our honor or respect because of their position. For example, think about government officials and what they do for you. They help to keep neighborhoods safe and to care for the needs of their citizens. There are many benefits to their work. The apostle Paul said that we should view these government authorities as “superior authorities.” He also said that we should follow their laws: “Render to all their dues: to the one who calls for the tax, the tax,” and “to the one who calls for honor, such honor.”—Romans 13:1, 7.
9 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we do all we can to show government officials that we respect them. Of course, every country has unique customs, so what officials may expect from us in one place may be different from what they expect in another. Still, we cooperate with government officials as they do their work. However, if they ask us to do something that will cause us to disobey Jehovah, we cannot do that. In those cases, we obey and honor Jehovah rather than men.—Read 1 Peter 2:13-17.
10. How did Jehovah’s servants in the past set a good example for us today?
10 We can learn from Jehovah’s servants in the past, who showed honor to governments and their officials. Joseph and Mary are a good example. When the Romans wanted to know how many people were living in the land, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register there even though Mary was very close to giving birth. (Luke 2:1-5) The apostle Paul is another example of someone who respected human rulers. When he was accused of doing something wrong, he respectfully defended himself before King Herod Agrippa and before Festus, the governor of the Roman province of Judea.—Acts 25:1-12; 26:1-3.
11, 12. (a) Why do we not give religious leaders special honor? (b) What happened when an Austrian Witness showed a politician respect?
11 What about religious leaders? Should we give them special honor? We give them the same honor we would give to any other person. But it would be wrong for us to give them special honor, even if they expect it. Why? Because false religion does not teach the truth about God and his Word, the Bible. Jesus criticized false religious teachers and called them hypocrites and bad leaders. (Matthew 23:23, 24) On the other hand, it would not be wrong to show special respect and honor to government officials. As a result of our doing so, they have sometimes helped us.
12 One such official was Dr. Heinrich Gleissner, an Austrian politician. During World War II, he was arrested by the Nazis. When he was put on a train to a concentration camp, he met Leopold Engleitner, a zealous Witness from Austria. Brother Engleitner respectfully explained his beliefs to Dr. Gleissner, who listened carefully. When the war ended, Gleissner repeatedly used his position to help the Witnesses in Austria. You may know of other examples of good things that have happened because Christians showed respect to government officials.
SHOW HONOR TO OTHERS
13. Who especially deserve our honor and respect, and why?
13 Our brothers and sisters deserve our honor and respect. This is especially true of brothers taking the lead, such as elders, circuit overseers, Branch Committee members, and members of the Governing Body. (Read 1 Timothy 5:17.) All of them care for the needs of God’s people, and the Bible refers to such servants as “gifts in men.” (Ephesians 4:8) So it makes sense that we would honor and respect them no matter their nationality, education, social standing, or financial status. The early Christians set a good example for us. They honored the men taking the lead, and we do the same today. When we are with these men, we do not treat them as if they were angels, that is, superhuman. But we do respect and honor them for their hard work and humility.—Read 2 Corinthians 1:24; Revelation 19:10.
14, 15. How are Christian elders different from many religious leaders?
14 Such elders are like humble shepherds. They do not want to be treated as celebrities. So they are very different from many religious leaders today as well as the religious leaders in Jesus’ time. He said about them: “They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues and the greetings in the marketplaces.”—Matthew 23:6, 7.
When elders are humble and obey Jesus’ words, their brothers and sisters will love, respect, and honor them
15 Christian elders obey Jesus’ words: “Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12) When elders in congregations all over the world are humble and obey Jesus’ words, their brothers and sisters will love, respect, and honor them.
16. Why should we continue to work hard in showing honor?
16 It may take time for us to learn how to honor others. This was also true for the early Christians. (Acts 10:22-26; 3 John 9, 10) But it is worth the effort. When we honor others in the way Jehovah wants us to, we will receive many benefits.
THE BENEFITS OF SHOWING HONOR
17. What are some benefits of showing honor to people who have authority?
17 When we honor and respect people who have authority in our communities, they are more likely to defend our right to preach. They may even have a positive view of our preaching work. This is what happened several years ago in Germany when a pioneer named Birgit went to her daughter’s school graduation. The teachers told Birgit that it had been a pleasure to have Witness children in class over the years. They felt that the Witness children made the school a better place. Birgit told them, “Our children are taught to follow God’s standards of conduct, and this includes showing respect for teachers and honoring them.” One teacher said that if all children were like the Witnesses, teaching would be easy. They had such a positive view of the Witness children that several weeks later, one of the teachers attended a convention.
18, 19. What should we remember when giving honor to elders?
18 The principles found in God’s Word can help us understand how to honor congregation elders. (Read Hebrews 13:7, 17.) We can and should commend them for their hard work. When we cooperate with the direction they give, that will help the elders to serve with joy. The Bible says that we should also imitate their faith. But this does not mean that we should try to copy exactly the way a “prominent” elder dresses, speaks, and teaches. If we were to do that, it might seem as if we were following men rather than the Christ. We should not forget that elders are imperfect just as we are.
19 When we honor and respect elders and do not treat them like celebrities, this will help them. How so? It will be easier for them to stay humble and avoid thinking that they are better than others or that what they do is always right.
20. How do we benefit when we honor others?
20 Honoring others helps us to avoid becoming selfish and helps us to remain humble when we are given special attention. It is also a protection for us because it helps us to avoid being stumbled if someone we respect does something that disappoints us. Another benefit is that it keeps us united with Jehovah’s organization. The organization does not give any human, whether a believer or an unbeliever, excessive honor.
21. What is the most important benefit of showing honor to others?
21 The most important benefit of showing honor to others is that by doing so we please God. We will be doing what he wants us to do and will remain faithful to him. Jehovah can then reply to Satan, who said that no one can be faithful. (Proverbs 27:11) Most people in the world do not understand how to give honor to others in the right way. We are so grateful that we know how to give honor Jehovah’s way!