On Honor / Why We Need It
What does it mean to honor someone?
Often, honor is a virtue of the past, long abandoned by our modern society. It’s a thing Roman soldiers talked about. It’s something kings of old yearned for while riding into battle.
Honor has found little attention in our modern world.
I think that’s because we’re a critical culture. Our main virtue is “revelation” of what’s lacking. We take pride in unveiling the “truth” behind someone who seems “righteous”. We like poking holes in the balloons others have inflated, and “equalizing” all people by pointing out their faults.
We love to find the “fatal flaw” in our heroes. We love humiliating those who are in the spotlight, and seeing great men fall.
Which, to be fair, is pretty pessimistic, isn’t it?
Can we agree? Can we all just admit that life is tough, that humans make mistakes? Can we just own that we’re doing the best we can do with what we’re given? That, at the end of the day, we’re all pretty similar, and full of fault AND full of greatness?
Isn’t that the dichotomy of humanity? We’re from dust, and yet, we are an image of divinity?
This is why we need honor in our lives again.
You see, to honor somebody is to bring attention to their successes. It’s to acknowledge that they had success in spite of their darkness, in spite of their struggle.
It’s to fully own and acknowledge their weakness, and embrace their shortcomings, and marvel at the magnificence that still ensued.
To honor somebody is to commend the behavior of someone who, in spite of their overwhelming struggle, still managed to do that thing.
They fed that many people. Even when this other part of their life was deserving of critique. They were the reason those things happened (which we’re so grateful for), even though they were sort of a jerk at times.
It’s to say this person had demons, and this person struggled here and there, but refused to let their struggle inhibit them from doing good.
To honor somebody is to acknowledge that their weakness, their failure, and their sin, is actually the product of great pain. This isn’t to justify their wrongdoings, but to acknowledge the suffering that likely caused their wrongdoing. To honor them is to acknowledge that something in them, in spite of that suffering, or maybe even because of that suffering, inspired and ignited them to act in this way, to do that thing.
And that thing is something we can all agree is good, and excellent, and right, and true, and worthy of praise.
To honor someone is to acknowledge that all of us are of dust and spirit, and that when the spirit wins we must take note of it. We must celebrate it.
Otherwise, what are we doing?
Logs and Lamps
There’s a story in the gospels where Jesus talks about having an eye full of light. The idea is that your “eye” is the lamp of the body. If it’s dark, the whole thing is dark.
But if its light…
In another story, He compares criticism to arguing about a spec in your friend’s eye while you have a log in yours.
The thing is, there’s always a spec to mention and a log to remove. There’s no shortage of problems in our world. (If you do happen to have a shortage of problems, please, take the stage and tell us all what we’re doing wrong.)
Everybody has a log, and everybody has a spec. But if you spend all your time looking for it in everyone else, then that means at the end of the day everybody still has a spec.
How helpful is that? Not very…
And this is where the “eye is the lamp of the body” bit comes into play. If your spec-filled eye is looking for everyone else’s spec, you will find what you’re looking for.
But, if you choose to be one of the brave few who point out the eye that is spec-less, or the man who removed someone else’s log, then you’re changing the way the whole thing works.
To be honest, we still act surprised at discovering the brokenness of people. I’m not surprised anymore. Gossiping about who has it worse, about whose spec is bigger; that just isn’t interesting.
What is interesting is elevating those things, events, and people which act more like lamps. It’s way more interesting to honor the good than highlight the bad. We can all agree negativity isn’t fun, or good, or beneficial, or healthy. We can also agree the world isn’t always the brightest place.
Maybe it’s time we made it brighter. Maybe it’s time we gave the spotlight to the honorable and praiseworthy things in life. Maybe we ought to stop searching for the logs in everyone’s eyes, and praised their best qualities instead.
header image modified under creative commons license. Original by: US Army