Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Small Bites - Philippians 4:8 - Honorable

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable
right and pure, and lovely and admirable.
If something is excellent or  praiseworthy, 
think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

I have learned that our current definitions of words originating in biblical-context are often akilter from what was meant by the original language. Especially, with honor, because we have disposed "honor" on less-than-noble things. We have given it our culture's meaning.  In the biblical context, honor was bestowed upon that which was noble, honest or reverent, whether of character of the person or deed.  The honorable person was held in high regard and had a good reputation, one worthy of noting publicly.  Truly,  "honorable mention" was the ultimate award.

There are three areas where we can see examples in the Bible for assessing true honor.

Look at Jesus and those who bear the name Christian 
with honor, giving Christ his fair due.

James 2:7 "...Jesus Christ, whose name you bear, is a noble name."

In this discussion, James wants his hearers to understand that, though they have lost standing in their culture for identifying with Jesus, that identity with him is actually an honor.  It was important in a shame and honor culture to know where personal identification came from and to cling to it, for the Greek culture could use shame quite effectively to keep people in line.

How are we kept "in line" with the wider culture, causing us to forget what a right definition for what is honorable?  How are those who bear that honorable name of Jesus Christ minimized and marginalized, and even shamed?

Look at the lives of faithful people.

In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. He explains that "good soil" represents honest, good-hearted people (character) who hear God's message and cling to it and continually produce a harvest of good deeds (resulting behaviors.)  Honorable is used within the context of this visible demonstration and growth of the goodness of what God plants in someone.  Honor is tied to public evidence; a display of the good works of God.

How do you know when you are in the company of honorable people?  Not by what they tell you, but by what you see them consistently do.  Study them - put them on the screen and see how they lived their lives. 

Seek God and His definition for that which is honorable.

God honors not what the world expects and counts as wise, but he goes to those unfound places and to the seemingly "lowly" people to reveal honor. (1Corinthians 1:26-30)  Honor looses its potency in the glare of "famosity," as my niece once called it.  Where honor is on display, it seems to present itself best out of the least and lowly, out of the meek and mild.  Its integrity is seen best in a sea of discredit.  Its consistency is demonstrated best in the midst of hardship and loss.  Its humble reverence stands in start contrast to self-aggrandizement.

You can be sure you will find honor only in the place it is most needed - when there is a culture of dishonor, or when the pressure of culture rises to mold us in a different direction, by a different definition.  Honor creates a legacy for a person that lasts into the future and not for the flash of the moment.  I am sure you can name the person in your life whose memory immediately comes when "honorable" is mentioned.

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