My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During our last article, we learned it’s important to develop a culture of honour. This means intentionally choosing to honour God, leaders, widows, the vulnerable and everyone we meet. In earlier teachings we learned about encouragement and blessing. Honour is a BIG part of that. Honour is choosing to see the potential, the intrinsic value or the hidden gold inside a person. You draw it out of them. Relationships grow stronger and full of healing when honour is involved. When we honour and listen to people, it grows your relationship. When we do this with God, it’s very special. Imagine what would happen if we honour and really listen to our spouse! No more nagging. No more need to shut out nagging with half-closed ears. Honour validates. Dishonour… well, it basically feels like a curse. That is especially the case with the commandment of honouring your parents. If you don’t, your life won’t be blessed, or even long-lived.
Tony and I work with children and teens in the townships, as well as some farm children in an area between Worcester and Robertson. Many of these kids don’t understand about honour, and authority. Some of their parents do, since we’ve often been addressed as tannie and oom. Our team has been loving on these kids for a year now. It’s a slow process, since we only see them once a week. Respect is important and we are earning their respect with being constant.
Yet we also battle a different culture. How does the Cape Coloured community express honour? Or the Xhosa? Or even the Afrikaaners? We are learning. Sometimes we have to set aside our Canadian and British sense of honour. Thankfully there are commonalities. The language of divine honour is still to hold great value in the people you are with. Honour actually sustains the human spirit.
We have young teen girls who we have been training to lead Bible studies in Avian Park private homes. These girls need to honour their hosts, since these venues are opened up for their ministry. The girls also need to honour the children who are with them. They would be like big sisters to the children who come to hear stories that will impact their lives. They need to be consistent in loving them and being there for the younger children.
Years ago, I remember an American prophet who ministered in a Toronto church where I was a parishioner. His name was Marc Dupont. He said that just as the medium is the message (a phrase championed by Canadian Marshall McLuhan), so the prophet is the prophecy. What Marc meant was that whatever you are proclaiming must be shown in your own life. If you are passionate about spreading the Father God heart of love, then that love must show in your life to others. If you are to speak about honour, you must model and show honour in your own life. So these girls must show the love of God as big sisters to these kids. They must also honour the hosts of the house venues where they are ministering. This is a learning process, and we find that discipling these girls a joy in many ways, yet they need to learn how to honour us as well. It may take time. So, we know about establishing a culture of honour. When we honour, it blesses those we honour, but it also blesses us! This is especially the case of honouring parents, but it also works in honouring everyone.
On the world political scene, the deliberate use of lies and ‘fake news’ to gain political advantage is the very opposite of honouring those who may be standing in the way of a particular objective. It breaks the rules of classic diplomacy, and it will always in the end worsen the situation. The attitudes of some leaders have been influenced by the tactics of thousands of social media users and people attempting to hoodwink as many as possible with urban legends and conspiracy theories. The whole concept of honour and the value of truth are unknown by such people.
How do we honour? We start with God. So how do we honour God? We honour God with our sincere worship. John records the angels singing in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” We want to worship God in more ways than songs. It needs to be a lifestyle where we put him first, and honour him above everything else. We need to pour out what we do every day to God. I do that in my art, writing and working with children. I’m still learning to do that in other ways. God is interested in all we do – not just the things we do in public. He’s worth it because he is worthy.
We honour God with our tithes and offerings. Proverbs 3:9 asks us to “Honour the Lordwith your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” In the law it was about giving him a tenth, and God would multiply the remaining nine tenths. A tithe is a tenth, and the offerings may be above that, for different reasons. But whether it’s the first ten percent or an offering, it should be the best we have, not what we’re trying to get rid of. Why give him garbage when he gave us his best? The prophet Malachi catches some of this dialogue in Malachi 1: 6-8. Listen to it in the Message version:
“Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me! “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’ “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship. “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’ 7-8 “When you say, ‘The altar of God is not important anymore; worship of God is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” God-of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.
Sometimes we defile others when we give hand-me-downs that aren’t in good condition. Many people in Canada give their garbage clothes away when they are rags. There’s a reason why certain charities ask for gently used items. I remember when I came to Kenya for the first time. I noticed a stall of used clothes in Nairobi and I was interested. My co-worker Jeff told me, “those clothes came from North America.” It’s true – so many of our cast-off items do end up in Africa. Think of how much longer these clothes would last if they were in better condition. Some are polluted offerings. And think, how many times we just give our leftover change to God? It’s not like He’s a parking attendant on the street.
We honour God by keeping the truth and speaking it in love. The enemy has always attacked truth, but now, it is more obvious. Currently, truth is twisted about sexual orientation with much confusion over gender identity. That’s only one area that’s being re-written in many cultures. There’s also the fight to proclaim life on both ends of the spectrum: conception and natural death. We have abortion on demand as if it’s birth control. We have euthanasia for the expendable of any age. What happened to loving LIFE? Instead we have a culture of death. This is a deception to keep us from the word of God. It’s not honouring.
The Prophet Isaiah warned us in Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Talk about confusing! Malachi 2: 1-8 also talks about God’s priests teaching lies to seekers, and the dishonour that comes when that happens. Patricia King says that when you step into honour, you step into blessing. When you step into dishonour, you step into a curse. These scriptures are a call for the priesthood to speak righteousness that will align people with blessings and honour. We need to keep God’s word as part of honouring him, especially in a way that reflects God’s heart.
We honour God through obedience. This is obedience to God, but it can also affect how we honour our leaders. The writer of the book of Hebrews advises in Hebrews 13:17 to “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Say you’re in a church and the pastor goes into things that are definitely off. Patricia King has advice on how to handle that. She says, “If you leave a church due to not feeling comfortable with your decisions, just leave. Don’t make a fuss. That’s not disobedience. Not making a fuss is actually honouring them. If you do make a fuss, you are cursing your life. It brings contention, strife and division to that church.
Let’s say that you are in a church and the pastor starts preaching that leaving newborn babies in garbage dumps is fine. And you’re sitting there, thinking, ‘oh my gosh, that is so not fine.” In fact, the early church rescued unwanted babies all the time in a stand for life. So you go and talk with the pastor with respect. You say “pastor, the word says this… Can you explain to me where you’re getting this from?” He explains, and you say, “I am so sorry, I love you. But I cannot agree with that. I am not in agreement with it and I cannot support it. I’m going to be leaving this church. I’m going to be praying for you. I’m not going to be speaking evil against you, but I need to speak the truth in love.” So you leave, but you do it in honour, not dishonour. God’s going to look after that. We need to honour God’s truth but in a way that isn’t dishonouring either.
Here’s another example. Say your employer wants you to do something that’s wrong. Nicky Gumbel tells a story on Alpha about Gimbo, a man who refused to lie on the phone for his employer, Harrods. He was asked to tell the caller that his boss was out and Gimbo refused. When the boss got off the phone, he was angry; but Gimbo replied, “If I can lie for you, I can lie TO you. And I won’t ever do that.” From then on, Gimbo became the most trusted employee in that company. Gimbo honoured his boss.
And now to honour others. How do we honour them? Here’s some things that will help you. Look for the good in each other. Celebrate each other. I remember helping people in a divorce recovery workshop back in the 90’s. Holy Spirit impressed on my heart that these hurting people needed not only to forgive, but they needed to honour their former spouses. As well as any potential new spouses! When Tony and I married, we included mutual encouragement in our vows. We could have included honour as well. But the core is to look for the good in each other and celebrate that. Don’t speak bad about them to other people, although sometimes you may have to acknowledge issues to work through in private.
And then there are the people that seem to rub you the wrong way. It may just be a cultural difference or a personality quirk. So don’t look at that one thing that drives you crazy. Look for things that you can honour. Look for things you can celebrate. You can always find SOMETHING to celebrate in that person. Look at their intrinsic value – what they have inside.
One way to honour is to celebrate birthdays. In our Worcester church, they post the names of all the people who have a birthday that week. A leader then shares a word of encouragement to the birthday people. I celebrated a birthday during Harvest School in northern Mozambique, and I was showered all day with love, songs, cake and more. I think it was my favourite birthday. Those were acts of honour. Then there’s mother’s day and father’s day. You come to church and they honour parents on their day. I’ve received flowers and chocolate and Tony’s received fishing birdies, chocolate and biltong. Those days are an opportunity to honour each other. It’s one thing I like about Facebook – it reminds you of your friend’s birthdays! It’s easy to honour on a birthday. Could we choose to honour on the other days of the year?
Last week we talked about honouring our parents. You can also honour your children. If you are a parent, aunt, uncle or children’s worker, you can speak life into these kids. Recognize the unique way that God has created them to be. Allow them to be who they are. Don’t compare them with their siblings. Listen to their ideas and tell them that you’re proud of them. Tony and I honour our girls by encouraging them to say what they love about each other. This is becoming a regular exercise. They are beginning to respond, and last week, Bella decided that she would say what she loved about us. The previous week, the girls told me that they loved the way I loved them. Bella told me that the first time I welcomed her to our home, she felt loved and all warm inside. She’s come to think of me as a second mother and she told me she loved me. Then she turned to Tony. She told him that she loved him also, and said that he was kind, full of respect for people and that he is there for them. Wow, we really felt honoured by Bella, who has such a gift of encouragement and teaching.
We can honour each other by preferring them over ourselves. One way to do this is to be generous. There are so many ways to do that. Sometimes gifts are helpful, other moments need acts of service.
We can honour each other by speaking well of them in public as well as private. This includes when the person is not even there – it’s not done for effect to impress that person. But even then, some people can honour publicly but dishonour them in private. Patricia King says that “sometimes we’ll say something nice about a person because it’s right to do. But then we’ll go talk to someone else in negativity about them, and that’s dishonouring. That cancels out your honour. You want to have honour on every side.”
We can honour someone by giving them a special personal gift, like the Queen of Sheba did to Solomon. Don’t you feel honoured when someone gives you a gift? It’s like wow, they were thinking of me! This is what I tried to do when I drew some of our kids club children in a drawing with Jesus. One of the girls was amazed and said with wonder, “Wow, you thought of me?? Jesus was also thinking of me?” That reaction made it all worthwhile. She received the love and felt honoured.
We can honour by caring for others – especially widows and the vulnerable. Sometimes they need a little offering to them to give them hope and a sense of value. It’s beautiful.
Honour is also something that can be culturally sensitive. It requires awareness and a gentleness to go carefully when you approach someone. Honour is something that is easier if we deal with the junk in our hearts. The junk includes unforgiveness, pride and conflict. If these things are not dealt with in our lives, they can lead to the very opposite of honour. They will further fragment broken relationships, cause wounded hearts, inequality, pain and fear.
Forgiveness is something that arose again and again in Rob Packer’s book The Life-Giving Power of Honour, as well as Danny Silk’s book Developing a Culture of Honour. Forgiveness is powerful. I’ve watched healing happen through the lives of those forgiving and the forgiven. Anglican pastor Dale Lang publicly forgave the school shooter who killed his son back in 1999. Dale ministers to other families who have endured similar suffering and he brings forgiveness and love into the equation. He’s able to honour them, since he knows the pain, and he also knows that bitterness and unforgiveness is a trap.
It’s too easy to not forgive if you feel you have been dishonoured. This can happen with friends and family who may have become too familiar with you. They may not even recognize they are dishonouring you. Proverbs 18:19 says that “it is harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city.” I know this truth personally.
Years back, I made a cultural error with a female Japanese pastor I was friends with at the time. When you are in a Japanese home, you must take your shoes off as a sign of respect and honour. I always did this, except for one time, where I just wasn’t thinking. I brought over another friend to introduce to this lady, and I was focused on my other friend, rather than my hostess. I forgot to take off my shoes. She became extremely upset with me, shooed me out, and never spoke to me again. While I apologized deeply and sincerely for my momentary lapse, this was not enough. I grieved the loss of the friendship, and I never forgot this lesson on honour. When Tony and I took a tour of our South African rental home, the then-current tenants were from South Korea. They also showed honour by taking off their shoes, but they offered honour to us by offering little sockettes to cover our feet. So we complied and smiled at them.
So when you honour, remember that honour grows nobility in people. Honour is humility in action. It’s the very opposite of pride that isolates you into a prison of self. Kris Valloton says that “for a Christian, honour is a condition of the heart, not just the product of a good environment.”
Today we’ve journeyed on how to honour others. There’s so much to learn, but along the path, I’ve hinted at times on how we receive honour. Since honour is relational, it usually is returned back. On our next broadcast we’ll discover more about how to receive or obtain honour. Because we are God’s creations, we have special value inside. And when we come to faith, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory. Look for the gold in each other and choose to honour.
Lord, I ask you to help us learn to honour others. Help us to honour you and to learn the importance of honour. Open our eyes to see the beauty in others, whether they are family, friends, or complete strangers. May we be instruments in healing where dishonour has wounded souls, as you are healing us.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you would like to hear an audio version of this article, please follow this link to CopplesWesternCape.ca and scroll down to #37
Blessings and love, Laurie-Ann
PS for any of you who pray – I was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer here in South Africa. We will need to go back to Canada after the chemotherapy treatments are done, to continue treatment in Ottawa. Please keep us in prayer for healing and finances. We are crowdfunding, since insurance won’t cover this, and we are already missionaries living by faith.
Our medical campaign page is here for financial contribution info, medical story info and prayer points: Copple Medical page.