Honor Brings Life (From Chapter 10 - What On Earth is Glory by Paul Manwaring

Paul told us clearly what we were to make of this great drama, this grand gesture of God descending into humanity and into death, and then ascending with humanity to life. He said: 

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) 

 

Once again, the honor Christ paid us at the Cross established the pattern of honor that defines the way we are treat one another. The journey of honor requires first that we learn to value one another according to the value Christ has given us, and second that we learn to show that value as Christ did, by “[looking] out…for the interests of others” and treating them as more important than ourselves. We are all called to become “the servant of all,” to take the low position in order to lift up those around us (Mark 10:44). 

Throughout my tenure as a prison governor, I consistently sought ways of “getting under” the prisoners. For two years, I didn’t allow a prisoner to come into my prison without first sitting down and talking to me for fifteen minutes. It was a little unusual, but was something I really felt I should do. In that time, I interviewed at least three hundred prisoners. I’d begin the interviews by saying, “I don’t want to talk about your crime. By the time you’ve got to me, you’ve told your parents, your probation officer, about ten lawyers, three courts, the police, the two prisons you’ve been transferred into, and just about everybody about your crime. I want to talk about you. What do you love to do? What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you? What vacation do you remember with your family? What would you like to do or achieve while you’re in prison?” 

Some of them just did not know how to answer. They were so shocked that I was taking an interest in them. They’d start telling me about their crimes, and I’d say, “I don’t want to know about that.” They’d say, “I’m doing six years,” and I’d say, “I know you’re doing six years. That’s not the issue. I want to know about you. I want to get to know you.” 

At the time, the Board of Visitors Watchdog Committee used to do a group interview with all of the prisoners after they had seen me. One day, this lovely lady from the Committee, Andrea, came down to see me. She said, “Paul you’ve got a problem.” 

I said, “What do you mean I’ve got a problem?” 

She said, “Those prisoners, they think you really like them.”

“Actually, you’re wrong,” I said. ‘I don’t like them; I love them.”

I was determined to be a voice of honor in the lives of these young men, to show value for them on the basis of who God said they were, and not on the basis of their bad choices. I was determined to recognize the glory in them, no matter how buried it was. And I watched as many of these young men, in various ways, began to show signs of life. 

Honor brings life. We see this most dramatically at the Cross, where Christ’s honor brought eternal, abundant life to the entire human race. But God first revealed this principle to Moses centuries earlier in the 5th Commandment. He said, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). As I described earlier, reconnecting to my father by restoring my value for him caused many things to begin to come to life in me. Honor opened the artery of sonship, and since that time I have been receiving nourishment that has affected my life, my family, and my future. Even when our parents are gone, carrying an attitude honor in our hearts and minds positions us to receive life from them. And this principle of honor extends to encounters with all people, for though our immediate family bonds are closest and therefore the most life giving, the honor Christ paid to all of us made us both family and worthy of honor. This creates the potential for an exchange of life every time we interact with people and recognize Christ’s value for them—even those who don’t yet know Him, just as Christ recognized our value before we knew Him. And again, simply carrying honor in our hearts brings life even when we aren’t interacting with people directly. Scripture teaches us to honor those in authority, for example, because even if we never speak to the President or Prime Minister, serving them through our prayers will promote life and peace in their sphere of influence (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-2). 

The principle of honor also works in the negative, however. Scripture is clear that while honor, which is preceded by humility, brings life, dishonor, which is preceded by pride, cuts off life. Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility {goes} before honor.” I like to illustrate this principle with a cooking example, because I love to cook and collect recipes. (At eight years old, I started watching the Galloping Gourmet, one of the early celebrity chefs, and cooking meals for my parents, who ran a small grocery store and thus gave me access to a wide variety of ingredients. I must say that they, and later my wife, approved of my success in producing the Galloping Gourmet’s dishes, but were less thrilled by my equal success in adopting his rather messy style in the kitchen!) 

Imagine I am a famous chef visiting the home of a great cook. I’m confident I would never do this, but let’s say that after she places her painstakingly prepared dessert on the table, I instantly tell her how much better my version of her desert is. Her hopes of pleasing me are crushed. Trying to hide her disappointment, she laughs it off, serving me a piece with apologies that it hasn’t passed muster. Pigheadedly, I continue to point out what her work lacks with each bite, until, abruptly, I’m interrupted. I look down and see that I am now wearing the dessert, and the cook is standing at the door waiting for me to vacate the premises. The dishonor produced by my pride has cut both of us off from all beneficial exchange and instead produced destruction.  

But now imagine what might happen if I come to the cook’s house in disguise. As she places her dessert on the table, I gasp at the sight and express how wonderful the aroma is. She serves me a portion and I, after savoring a few bites, pour out generous complements about this unparalleled creation. Flattered, the cook begins to tell me the history of this great dessert—it is her great grandmother’s recipe, brought with her family when they emigrated. She gets up from the table and pulls her scrapbook of recipes down from a shelf, along with a photo of her great grandmother. I am impressed by what is, to my trained eye, a valuable cache of rare and special recipes. So at this point, I reveal my identity, tell her that I think she has a recipe book waiting to be published, and offer to help launch her in this venture. 

In this scenario, humility preceded honor, and honor produced life. And what was that life? Clearly the enjoyment and nourishment of an excellent dessert was just a small part of it. The real treasure honor exposed was the excellence of the cook. It made room for more of her greatness to come to life.