Honor is a buzzword at True Life, and, really in many river churches. There are good reasons we’re talking about this spiritual principle so much. Honor opens doors, releases blessings, and propels people into their destinies and callings. There is no “flip side” or “dark side” to honor. It’s only good--unless it's misused. One of the most common misuses that I see is when people are dishonest with others under the guise of “honor.” True honor sees and treats people the way that God made them. When you’re honest with how you see the other person, you confront anything that opposes that revelation.
Danny Silk writes in Culture of Honor, “A culture of honor is created as a community of people learns to discern and receive people in their God-given identities.” Because honor treats people the way God would, it often does feel good. God is described in the Bible as “love,” and love is patient and kind (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor 13:4). The attitude of someone walking with God’s vision will feel patient and kind -- it can feel “nice.” But honor isn’t “nice” it’s actually “kind.” And, there is a big difference. “Niceness” makes you feel good in the moment, but a “kindness” enables you to be good. Kindness, as you may remember, leads to repentance (Rom 2:4). Kindness never compromises the truth, even at the risk of offending the other person.
We’ve been talking about kingdom community at True Life since the beginning of the year. During the sermons and discussions, I kept thinking of 1 John 1:7, which says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” People who walk in the light experience true fellowship. Light exposes things. It reveals so that you can see clearly. We want to see others’ true identities and enable them to walk out their callings unhindered.
God honors and loves, but He is also completely honest. He is honest with how people affect Him, how people are acting and how they are affecting other people. He is also very emotional (He created every emotion) and is honest with how He feels (read his the Old Testament prophetic books for examples!). He is angry, grieved, frustrated, but always without sin. All of these emotions are permissible in a healthy, honoring culture.
The only way to walk in the light with community and with God is to establish a culture of freedom. The Bible says in John 8:32 that the “truth” sets you free. Because of this principle, we learn two things about honor:
1) If you want to grow in freedom, begin to be honest about your story. When you honor yourself, you will gain freedom. You are a royal son or daughter. How should you be treated? If you can’t see yourself this way, get a revelation of how God sees you. As we grow in our Godly identities, we should naturally grow in brave confrontation and healthy boundaries.
2) We give keys of freedom to others when we treat them according to their Godly identities, especially when they are acting differently. When you honor others, and are honest about who they really are, you give them a key to experience freedom. Honor sees and treats people according to their God-given identities, regardless of their decisions or actions.
In the Bible, we see a variety of examples of how people treated others with honor when they were not acting themselves. For example, two of Noah’s three sons treated their father with great honor by covering his mistakes and protecting him from further shame. Noah got super drunk one evening and passed out without his clothes on. One of his sons saw and went and told his other brothers. The other two sons walked in “backward” to cover him, stopping the activity, but without changing the way they “saw” their father (Gen 9:18-28). This is a beautiful example of Godly treatment of a fallen person, especially considering he was their father, their “leader.”
There are many keys to honor we see in this short Genesis passage. For one, the first son did not honor his father. He did nothing to get involved with the restoration or healing process. He didn’t confront his dad. Instead, he went and told others. He didn’t protect, which is what the other brothers did. The other brothers also chose not to see what they didn’t need to see to solve the problem. They not only walked in backwards, the Bible says, “Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.” (Gen 9:23). Even while these men handled this situation, they didn’t want to see their father differently. When we confront people, it should be from a position of continuing to see them according to their Godly identities, and for the purpose of helping them continue to walk that out (or restore to that place, if they have lost it).
In my life, I have felt the most loved by people who called me out in times when I was not acting according to the righteousness of Christ. Their truthfulness (about how I was affecting them or what they saw was “off” in my behavior or thinking) gave me great freedom. If they had stayed silent, or, worse, gone around and told others instead of me, I would still be in bondage today. The most loving thing we can do for each other is to be honest.
I am taking my KidMarvel team on a journey of learning to confront in love this summer. We’ll be going through a series by Dann Farrelly, the Dean of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, called Brave Confrontation. My hope is to see our community grow in light and love as we learn to bring out the best in each other and protect our own and each other’s Godly identities.