“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22–23

Honor seems to be an archaic concept in our current society. When the term honor is used in the news these days it is usually in a totally alien context. We have heard of too many “honor killings” occurring in western countries. In that context “honor” and “killing” are mutually exclusive thoughts. Any thinking man knows that all men are created bearing the image of Jehovah, the Creator (Genesis 1:26) and so all human life is not to be taken lightly.

You may rightly ask about the history of dueling in western societies, even up to the 1800’s in America. Is there a difference? Absolutely. Christendom has generally denounced the idea, preachers have railed against it, and it tended to be an upper class moral failure because they were the ones who thought they had “honor” to lose. Additionally, there were so many cumbersome conventions to be observed (letters sent back and forth, seconds and doctors to be acquired, etc.) that the process might take years. Some estimate that about 20 percent of all duels fought in western society ended in the death of one of the parties. In the case of the perverted view of justice called “honor killings,” it is a clandestine affair, practiced by the lowest quarters of their society who have no concept of real honor, and wrath is visited on the helpless, the perpetrators thinking that they have the approval of their “holy” book.

No, please divorce from your mind any mixture of evil with the biblical concept of honor. Both the Hebrew and the Greek word for honor means, at its most basic level, to be weighty or heavy. When we seek to value an item, we often pick it up to feel its heft and durability. If it seems sturdy and worthy of our money, we buy it and take it home. In a similar vein we weigh principles, priorities, and people. The Old Testament idea easily developed from being heavy to being numerous, to being rich, and then to honor and the idea of lending weight to a person perceived as deserving of honor. The New Testament word means to prize, to fix a valuation upon, and then to revere.

Our English language takes its heading from biblical concepts of honor with the aid of Noah Webster. His dictionary has 13 definitions for the noun form of honor alone. Among its meanings is to esteem due to worth, a testimony of esteem (like military, funeral or civil honors), dignity of rank, an act of reverence, the reputation of a good name, any particular virtue which is much valued (“like bravery in men and chastity in females”), and civilities paid (as in “will you do me the honor of…).

For all these virtuous definitions, our society still seems to retain a vague recollection. But there is one Webster definition that seems to have passed with the days of George Washington and yet it is a defining definition of a good man, most especially of a godly man. Honor may be defined as “true nobleness of mind, magnanimity, dignified respect for character springing from probity, principle, or moral rectitude; distinguishing trait in character of good men.” For believers, this definition is the best application of the word honor for a man who desires to be an ambassador for the living God among men.

In our text above, Jesus Christ is rightly claiming equality with His heavenly Father. The fact that God has committed all judgment to His Son is plainly stating that the Father and Son are One. Therefore the respectful honor due to God the Father is the respect that Jesus Christ deserves. A similar connection is made in comparing the great hymns of the redeemed in Revelation 4:11 and 5:12, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” And, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

God encourages a healthy sense of biblical honor to be shared among men, especially when rightly related to Jesus Christ through faith. Psalm 8:5 is quoted in Hebrews 2:7 concerning the God/man, our Savior: “You have made Him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned Him with glory and honor.”

For our part we are to bring honor to God in all things, as Proverbs 3:9 commands: “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” In verse 16 honor is granted to men of wisdom: “Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.” Verse 4:8 continues the thought: “Exalt her [i.e., wisdom], and she will promote you; she will bring you honor, when you embrace her.”

A proverb that seems to have escaped the duelists of long ago is found in Proverbs 20:3, “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” Lest you think honor is only a man’s game, consider Proverbs 31:25.

Believers are to live by the code of godly honor in their worship and in all their dealings among men, and most especially toward believers (Exodus 20:12; Romans 12:10, 13:7; Ephesians 6:1f; 1 Thessalonians 4:4; 1 Timothy 5:3, 6:1, 16; Hebrews 13:4; and 1 Peter 3:7). Trust and obey.