Our church recently started a sermon series on honor. The first sermon was given on Mother's Day and was on the topic of honoring women. From the sermon one could draw the conclusion that if men honored women the ways Jesus honored them, there would be no need of a "Me too, movement." Afterward, I looked up a few verses on honor and landed on Romans 12:10, which says, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor." Can you imagine what our culture would be like if we all did that? Sadly, our culture is not doing a good job of honoring one another.
One of the places the lack of honor shows up is in our school systems. Many of the students do not respect authority figures. When teachers are presenting lessons, some students tune the teacher out and some disrupt the lesson by talking, sharpening pencils, being argumentative, or choosing to pick at another student for the answer they gave. When some students are being corrected by teachers, they cuss at the teachers or spread ugly rumors about them. Some teachers have even been assaulted by students on the campus.
I used to be shocked when someone said their child was being bullied, but now I am not even surprised. And, when I say bullying, I am not talking about a kid who gives another child dirty looks, a kid who abruptly quits being a child's friend, a group of kids excluding a child at lunch time, or a kid excluding a classmate from his or her birthday bash, as painful as those things can be for children to navigate. I am talking about kids whose language is filled with strong hate speech--harsh words that strike at the very core of another child's confidence and worth. I am not talking about kids gossiping, as wrong as that may be, but kids who choose to spread blatant lies, vulgar lies about another student. I am not talking about childhood scuffles where tempers got out of hand at recess, but physical assaults in which a kid pounds another child's face until he has a concussion, where a child is tripped, pushed, punched, and threatened every time he walks down the hall. I am talking about gangs of kids beating students to the point they are hospitalized. I am also talking about sexual harassment, and not just the ogling every woman has come to expect, but the grabbing, the groping, and even full on rapes that occur on campus. The students lack respect for one another.
The culture of dishonor that is prevalent in schools is a reflection of the culture in which our kids are growing up. Dishonor impacts every area of our lives, including the work place, the businesses we visit, the places we worship, and yes, even our own homes. I am grappling about the heart issues that are at the root of our culture's dishonorable behavior. I suspect it has something to do with gender contempt that is a result of seeing it in the home, a result of abuse, a result of business that leaves parents too worn out to treat each others well, or the result of failing to instill honoring behavior in children through the teaching and enforcement of God honoring boundaries. It could be partly do to the fact that our culture doesn't value life the way it once did. It could be that we as a nation no longer view people as image bearers of the Holy God. It is a very complex issue, I am sure. But, for today I simply want to invite other Christians to humbly take an honest look at ourselves, our attitudes, and our relationships to see if we are modeling honorable behavior or are we guilty of disrespectful behavior. We have an opportunity in this dark climate of dishonor to shine bright by honoring one another and in doing so modeling Christ to the world that desperately needs Him.
As I am writing this, I feel convicted about how lazy I've become about showing honor to my spouse. I realize how important it is to process what honor looks like in a practical sense. The first place a child learns to honor others is in the home. Their eyes see how Mom and Dad treat one another. Do they see Dad looking at Mom with eyes of love or see him ogling other gals? Do they hear Dad speak highly of Mom or do they hear words of criticism that exposes his dishonor towards her? Do they see Mom greet Dad joyfully at the door or do see her passivity in acknowledging his homecoming? Do they hear Mom express gratitude to Dad for his contributions to the family or do they hear Mom criticizing him for never being enough? Do they hear Mom extoling Dad's virtues or see her tearing him down for his weaknesses? Do they see Mom and Dad showing honor in the little things--like saying "please," "thank you," and "Can I help with that?" Do they see Mom and Dad manipulating one another or having honest conversations in which the necessary negotiations can build a heathy family? Do they see Mom and Dad exchanging smiles when they catch each other's eyes across the dinner table or the disrespect shown through impatient eye rolls? If a child visits a parent's work place, do they see a picture of the other parent on the desk? Do they model proper respect for legal authorities when stopped for traffic violations? We must remember that honor or the lack of honor is seen the most in the little things done in our every day lives.
Are Mom and Dad teaching children to show honor to others? Do they teach them to honor the other parent or allow them to name call and sass without giving consequences? Are there consequences for a child who shows disrespect to a teacher at school? While parents must be their child's strongest advocate, helping him or her use their voice assertively, they must also teach them to use it respectfully. A child who doesn't respect parents or teachers, will become a narcissistic grownup who loses jobs because he or she won't respect bosses. Do parent's teach their children how to treat siblings and friends? Do they teach them the energy expended in tearing others down can give them a better quality life when it is expended in showing honor? Do they teach them to resolve conflict in honorable ways or allow them to retaliate, seek revenge, or spew hate-filled words that can never be retracted? Do they teach children to respect grandparents? As a newlywed, one of the things that impressed me the most was how respectful my spouse was towards my mother, my grandmothers, and my great grandmother. When we visited them, he greeted them with a huge smile, made great eye contact with them that said they mattered, and he helped them to their seats at the table.
I can't help but wonder how different a family might be if each person in it understood that with belonging to a family comes specific obligations and one of those obligations is to try to out do one another in showing honor. I think most of us want to be honorable people and we need to remember that honor or lack of it is shown through our attitudes, body language, speech, willingness to listen, and through heart felt empathy. Oh, that we would become families who desire to honor God by obediently honoring one another. How might that begin to impact our schools, our churches, our communities, and our culture?
Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!