Honor: The Lost Virtue

Honor: the lost virtue

Once Upon a Time in a land far far away, lived a people who cared for one another profoundly. They worked tirelessly to show each other a special grace seen today as a fairy-tale.  These people did not always agree with everything their neighbors, friends, and family did or said; however, they found ways to extend this special grace to all, despite their sometimes radical differences.  This grace was called HONOR.


Long before modern times, honor existed.  Aristotle listed Honor as one of the twelve virtues, alongside Courage, Temperance, Liberality, Magnificence, Pride, Good Temper, Friendliness, Truthfulness, Wit, Friendship, and Justice.  The Bible tells us, the first and greatest commandment is, “To love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, with the second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So how does this happen when many do not love the Lord or themselves?  How do we love our neighbors?  I believe it begins with Honor.  The instruction to Honor is recorded over 130 times within the pages of the Bible.  In the Old Testament, it is often referred to as a weight given to something or someone.  In the New Testament, as the value assigned to something or someone.  Interestingly, within Aristotle’s virtues or Biblical text, Honor is often given without the other person or thing seemingly being deserving of such special grace.

Honor Has Been Lost

According to Merriam Webster, Honor has the following meanings: as a noun, it can be “the recognition of a position or standing, privilege, or the worth one brings to a position.” As a verb, honor is: “to treat or regard someone with respect or admiration, to fulfill the terms of a commitment.”  Taking a moment to consider Biblical examples, Aristotle's list, and Webster’s definitions, it becomes more and more apparent – Honor has been lost.  The question now remains: “Can honor be found again?”

A Blessing in Disguise

Have you ever known someone who inexplicably found ways to show Honor to those around them?  For me, it was my great Granny.  Granny had experienced extreme loss and hardship during her life.  Born in 1905, she lived through the Spanish Flu, the loss of her mother and younger brother, WWI, loss of her eyesight, raised five children, WWII, the loss of her eldest daughter, raised her four grandchildren, and the list goes on.  Amid her hardship, during good times and bad, days of plenty and days of want, Granny showed honor to those around her.  I heard stories of her feeding hungry wanderers at her backdoor.  My Granny could not see, and maybe that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing her to listen to the person’s words instead of judging by sight.

“Just DO it!”

When considering Honor within Webster’s definition, the word “respect” seems to muddy the waters a bit, bringing confusion to what Honor means and how one can incorporate Honor into their everyday living.  When considering respect, we often think about whether or not something/someone is deserving or worthy of our respect.  Right here, this is where Honor seems to break down. In Exodus 20:12, Honor is commanded by God "Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”  This doesn’t say, “IF” your parents deserve Honor, Honor them. On the contrary, this is a command, and to steal a line from Nike, we need to, “just DO it!”  Ephesians 6:2 expands this commandment by bringing to light a promise that comes alongside the obedience to Honor our father and mother – that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. In chapter 15:1-11, Matthew gives us a clearer vision of what this special grace called Honor is.  When talking to the Pharisees, “Jesus answered, ‘And why do you ignore the commandment of God because of your traditions? For didn’t God say, ‘Honor your father and mother,’” This passage goes on to say the people have elevated themselves and their traditions above the words of God, calling their words, worship and traditions empty.  Did you catch that?  They elevated themselves! My Granny couldn’t see if a person was deserving of Honor; she just did it.  Honor involves the ability to look past the actions, color, economic standing, religion, gender, or anything else standing in front of you to WHO stands in front of you - a human-being created in God’s image.  Genesis 1:26 & 27 tells us mankind was created in God’s own image. All mankind. Not a special group or denomination, but ALL mankind. Above all else, the image of God in man/woman deserves Honor even if you think the actions, decisions, or viewpoints of the individual don’t.  Of course, there were people my Granny didn’t like or didn’t agree with, but you would never have known that by the way, she treated them.

1 Thessalonians 5:13b says: “Live in peace with one another.”  14b “Be patient with EVERYONE.” 15 “see that no one repays another with evil for evil but always seek after that which is good for one another and for ALL people.”

A Place of Honor

Through all of the turmoil over the last several months, I can’t help but wonder what our world would look like if we held others in a place of honor.  There have been SO many different guidelines and instructions given for how to respond to Covid-19.  Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. Stay home, get out, and exercise, get tested, get immunized, etc.  I have read many hateful and argumentative words from people holding one view or another, not to mention what they are saying about our local governing authorities.  Is there a way to Honor one another without agreeing with each other?  When the brutal murder of George Floyd happened on the streets of a Minneapolis neighborhood, the ugly erupted!  I say ugly because that is what happens when people don’t honor one another or life in general.  Ugly came from all directions, including what some say were from paid sources who were inciting even more ugly.

What if humankind were all about Honoring one another. Not agreeing with, but Honoring.  Honor says, “I hear you.”  It says, “I choose to put you, as a human being, above my beliefs or convictions.” “I can show you Honor without agreeing with you.” I don’t have to compromise my convictions, to show Honor.

What if:

Regardless of your views on masks or no masks - Honor.

Regardless of whether you view the police as evil or saints – Honor.

Regardless of your view of the current or past president – Honor.

Regardless of whether you believe Covid-19 began as retaliation from China for the tariffs, a means of population control, or simply a nuisance – Honor.

Regardless of your view of abortion as killing the innocent or as a woman’s right – Honor.

Regardless of your view of sexual orientation – Honor.

Regardless of whether you are for same-sex marriage or against it – Honor.

Regardless of your political affiliation – Honor.

Regardless of your faith or religious convictions – Honor.

Regardless of whether you are a proponent of vaccines or if you are an anti-vax person – Honor.

Regardless of whether you home-school, send your children to private school or support public education - Honor.

Regardless of whether you stand for the flag or if you kneel – Honor.

Regardless of your beliefs about white privilege or BLM - Honor

Regardless if you hold the Bible as inerrant or only containing truth or as complete rubbish – Honor.

Regardless of one's economic standing – Honor.

Regardless of your skin color – Honor.

Regardless – Honor.

What would it be like, if, in all of these situations, we show Honor? Not honor for the actions, those are God’s to sort out.  But, Honor for the person standing before you, you know, the one created in God’s image.  Honor that!

Honor Minded

If the officers involved in the George Floyd death had been Honor minded, that situation would never have happened.  If the people of Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angels, New York, Greensboro, and beyond, as well as those who, as it is believed, were paid to riot and burn down businesses, had been Honor minded, innocent people would not have lost everything to the riots and looting.  Imagine if you will, what the current situations would look like if the office of the president, REGARDLESS of who sits in the office, were held in Honor, talking, listening, and working together would actually be the norm.

Just One Person

Can this lost virtue be found?  I say an emphatic YES!  Honor can be found and might be the most critical grass-roots movement of our time.  Is it easy? No! Is it worth it? Absolutely! What does it take? All it takes is for one person to choose to get off the crazy cycle.  It starts with a smile, eye contact, listening, and grows into kind words, followed by loving actions, and has the power to change EVERYTHING!

Holly Watson
Welcome, I'm Holly Watson

Certified Professional Life Coach

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About Holly

Holly is a commissioned minister of Pastoral Care from the National Conservative Christian Church/Experience Church.  She has served in ministry for many years in various roles including adult Sunday School co-director with her husband David, part of a church planting team in Phoenix, AZ, children’s choir teacher, nursery director, director of Women’s Ministry and director of Children’s Ministry and Chaplain for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team.

Holly holds a B.A. Biblical Studies from San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, an M.A. Clinical Christian Counseling from Colorado Theological Seminary; she gained her CPLC (Certified Professional Life Coach) from Christian Coach Institute, holds a Teaching Diploma from the Evangelical Training Association in Wheaton Ill., and a Certification in Temperament Therapy from the National Christian Counselors Association.

Holly struggled with school and learning for many years. This cycle was broken in her mid-twenties when she began to have success after having a couple of engaging teachers who communicated and encouraged the learner in her. Graduating college with honors and later being accepted to the University of Southern California have become milestones that help her inspire others to work towards and achieve their goals, hopes, and dreams.