Honoring the less-than-honorable

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23)

The haunting question landed softly in our group.

How do you honor someone who isn’t honorable?

Many of us have people in our lives we know we should honor and respect. The Bible clearly teaches us to honor parents, husbands and wives, and friends. General teachings expand this to our neighbor, our boss at work, the stranger we meet in line at the store. But what if those people aren’t wise? What if they aren’t honorable? What if they behave in a way that is clearly not in keeping with right living according to God’s Word?

How do we reconcile those teachings and honor someone who isn’t honorable? This hard question sits squarely in the intersection of faith and life doesn’t it?

I sometimes wonder if the teachings assume that our parent or our spouse or our friend are worthy of honor and full of wisdom because they worship the Lord and seeks the Lord’s counsel through his Word.

Or maybe I just want them to.

It is too easy to say yes, that is what God must mean and give ourselves the out of not honoring thehonoring others if they aren’t people of faith or if they make choices that place them outside of God’s instructions for right living. The way of our world tells us to disregard, disrespect, or even cut that person out of our lives. They aren’t worth our time or effort.

Jesus calls us all to a much higher standard.

How do you honor someone who isn’t honorable? Ask for eyes like Jesus to see them as Jesus sees them, and sees us.

With eyes like Jesus we will see that they are broken and hurting. Instead of them being our parent, our spouse, someone who has let us down, betrayed us, or even harmed us, we will see them as a sinner in need of the grace extended by Jesus – just like we are.

We too were lost and broken. We too are sinners falling short of God’s glory. The difference is that we know the joy of being found and made whole by Jesus. This needs to be the thing that drives our behavior toward the less-than-honorable. We want them to have what we have in Jesus.

Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. He died for the less-than-honorable too. Click To Tweet

Seeing the other person as a lost and broken soul aligns our heart with the Lord’s and enables us to extend to them that which we could not under our own power. This does not excuse or negate the actions of the less-than-honorable. If we have experienced hurt or harm, we don’t shove it all under a rug and pretend nothing ever happened. But we also don’t get a pass on this. We still have to grapple with how to honor someone who has hurt us and we can only do this within the context of our faith.

With eyes like Jesus, we will see that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, just like we are. Jesus sees us as a priceless work of art, created as a masterpiece by God. Do we, when we look at others, especially those who are hard to honor, see them as a created masterpiece in the image of God?

With eyes like Jesus, we will remember that Jesus died on the cross for them too, declaring them worth the sacrifice. We often want to be judge and jury and condemn the less-than-honorable as undeserving of Jesus’ grace and mercy. True. They don’t deserve it. But neither do we.

Jesus did not willingly go to the cross because we deserved salvation. He did it because he, and he alone, deemed us worthy of his sacrifice. We don’t get to decide someone else is not worth it when Jesus has declared that they are.

Honoring the less-than-honorable can only happen when we see them with the eyes of Jesus. Click To Tweet

With eyes like Jesus, our hearts will be genuinely broken in grief that they do not know the power of Christ in their lives.

How do we honor the less-than-honorable? We show them what the power of knowing and loving Jesus can do in their life by living it out in our own life and relationship with them. We can only do this when we see them with the eyes of Jesus.