“There would be no more heathen if we would be true Christians,” said the fourth century preacher St. John Chrysostom. So often it is the failure of Christians to show honor to others which turns people away from Jesus and his saving work on the cross. Roy Moore is a contemporary example: regardless of whether or not he committed the sins he was accused of, the narrative goes that he abused underage women. His likely failure to show honor to these young women has destroyed his credibility as a Christian, and hurt our witness as well.
“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
In the Odyssey and Iliad, Homer uses the word “timé” (honor) to describe the human praise for someone’s glorious actions. Paul uses “timé” in Romans 12:10 when exhorting us to outdo one another in showing love, mercy, respect, –deference- to our fellow Christians (we are not “mere mortals” to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis). We are temples of God, indwelt with his Spirit, and so Paul exhorts us to honor one another as we would honor God, for he is in our midst. All people are made in his image, and we should treasure them, showing them honor and hospitality. As we now live in a post-Christian age, I believe this idea is all the more necessary. No longer can we assume our neighbor’s familiarity with Christianity: the burden is now upon us to show the light and love of God to those around us, and honoring those around us is a huge part of that.
Paul makes a point to tell the Romans to show honor to one another – and recall, this is the same term for the reverence shown to a Homeric deity – because it’s not what we naturally do. In our flesh, we consider ourselves more important than others. All sin stems from pride, which inherently honors ourselves instead of others. We don’t passively honor others; it requires intentionality. And it begins by loving and honoring your family, even when they lock you out of the bathroom.