Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. (Romans 12:10, CSB)

Most of us are interested in the idea of “honoring one another”—it sounds like a great idea! But what does that even mean?

The Greek word for the noun “honor” is timē (pronounced tim-aye) appears 41x in the New Testament. The verb form of the word appears 21x. In Greek, “honor” is the same word used to describe or attribute great value to something. The higher the “honor,” the higher the price of something. It is also the word used to attribute high status to someone or thing. And sometimes honor speaks to the recognition someone deserves. They are “honored” by being recognized and appreciated.

During the 1st century (when Paul’s letter to the Romans was written) honor was something that was considered a possession, based on your social status or your accomplishments.

This resulted in dividing people based on the social distinctions between those who have more “honor” than others. Do you see the problem with this? Not only were economic distinctions divisive enough, but then throwing in other social factors surely complicated any ability to see people as peers and equals. 

And we can sympathize with those Roman Christians who converted to Christianity from a pagan background. For their previous understanding was that honor was something only the “gods” could bestow. And bestowed it they did…scarcely…and on a select few. In a biblical worldview, however, everyone is intrinsically honored by being endowed with the image of God. This view of humanity was rooted in a Christian understanding of honor, not a Roman/pagan one. 

The Western civilization’s ideal of all people being treated with equality and honor comes from a Christian principle. 

Going against the grain, Paul teaches that Christ-followers are to outdo one another in showing honor. In other words, Christians do not fall into the trap of letting someone’s perceived honor affect how well they are loved or treated. Instead, Christians are called to honor one another without limitation. Christians are to make others feel like they are of high or extreme value by the way they are loved and cared for. 

Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. (Romans 12:10, CSB)

When a culture of honor is established within our “tribe,” which includes our friends and family, no one will feel neglected.

Out of the many ways this could be done in the context of community, perhaps a great starting place is to seek to be the friend that you wish you had. Take inventory on how you want to be treated as a friend and then embody that toward others.

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” – Zig Ziglar

We honor our friends when we affirm them (to their face and behind their back). We honor our friends when we listen to them. When we give them our time and attention we are honoring them as important to us. We express honor when we give a vital role in each other’s lives. Consider how even Jesus, our Lord, calls His disciples “friends.”

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15, NIV)

May we be the kind of friend that people feel “honored” to have in their lives!

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