Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (I Peter 2:17, ESV)
Although I have a social media account, mainly to keep in touch with old friends, I find much of the content does not pass the Philippians 4:8 test. Rather than honest, pure, and of a good report, postings can be disparaging and divisive. So many lack respect for others, and that is a sad thing. It also goes against biblical principles which admonish us to love and honor one another.
First Peter 2:17 instructs us to “honor everyone.” Easy to say but not as easy to do at times. We find it difficult to love, honor, or respect those who do not portray those qualities in their own lives. Some people, we feel, do not deserve honor because their actions and attitudes are dishonorable. Must we still show respect for such a person? Let’s look at how one man answered this dilemma.
King Saul and David, the shepherd boy and giant slayer, should have enjoyed a good relationship together. After all, David became Saul’s personal musician, army captain, and son-in-law. Yet as we read through the book of First Samuel, we see Saul changing from the humble man who had first been anointed king to a man who no longer respected or obeyed the Lord’s commands. First Samuel 16:14 tells us, “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him” (NKJV). As Saul’s life spiraled downward, his hatred and resentment turned toward David.
Have you ever wondered how David kept such a respectful attitude toward a man who so obviously despised him? Saul made no secret of his hatred of David and tried to kill him on more than one occasion. Yet, when David had opportunities to kill Saul—and was encouraged to do so by his men—he refused. One such instance is recorded in I Samuel 24. David displayed respect for the anointing God had placed upon Saul’s life, even though Saul did not seem to respect that anointing himself. David refused to avenge himself against Saul.
“He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.’ So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul” (I Samuel 24:6, NLT).
The Bible instructs us to honor God, our elders, those in authority, and people in general. That’s very inclusive. In other words, God does not allow us to pick and choose who is worthy. Everyone we meet deserves respect because we are all created in the image of God. The grumpy old curmudgeon down the street? Honor him. The smelly homeless person on the street corner? Honor him. The person with radical political views? Honor him. The person who lied about us? Honor him.
When we show honor to those who have not proven themselves honorable, it does not mean we approve of their actions. It means we recognize God still loved that person enough to go to Calvary for them. While their actions may not hold value, their soul holds great eternal value. Extend mercy and pray for them.
Lord, help me to always keep in view the price You paid for each soul. Even if someone’s actions have been less than honorable, they were made in Your image and hold the potential for so much good. Help me to esteem them as Your creation and pray they will reach that potential. May my love and respect make a difference to all I meet. I represent You to the world.
(Other scriptures to read: Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 3:27; Romans 12:10; I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7.)