Original post at http://wrestledwithangels.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/forgotten-virtue-of-honor/
If you plan on dining in Japan, slurping is an appropriate table manner. It shows approval to the chef. But if you head over to Portugal do not ask for the salt and pepper if they are not already on the table. It is seen as an insult to the cooking abilities of the one who prepared the meal. In the Middle East, even if you are left-handed, make sure you eat with your right hand. It is inappropriate to pick up food with your left-hand.
I suppose as Americans we think about such things as table etiquette. However, what is considered appropriate does not seem as important as it is in other parts of the world. It has given us the reputation as the “rude” American.
Some will say it is because we are just being ourselves and not being restricted by social norms. I think it is because we have lost the concept of honor. Honor is a forgotten virtue in our day. We ignore the admonition to “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10 NLT). Showing honor is old fashion. It harks back to the days of chivalry. Rudeness is the order of the day.
There are two groups of people we are called to show honor. First, we are told to honor our parents. One of the Ten Commandments declares, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). Our parents are partners in the creation of us. They represent God in our lives when we are young in that they are our primary caregivers. When we give honor to our parents we are recognizing that they give value to our lives.
The second group we are asked to respect is those who have authority over us. In Romans 13 the Apostle Paul tells us to choose to subject ourselves to those who have authority over us. They have been granted that authority by God. So, we are to show “honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13: 7). Authority could include our government authorities. It also includes teachers, coaches, mentors, and others who have taken on the responsibility to guide us into being mature adults. God has placed them over us to teach us wisdom and give us the abilities to be leaders in our world. We are called to honor.
Thomas Carlyle said, “Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.” If you only look up to people who lie, cheat, and steal their way through life then that will be the person who you will become. But if you honor a person who stands with integrity and lives her life with honesty then you are more than likely to become that type of person. Our lives are shaped as much by those whom give honor as it to those whom we choose to dishonor.
Also, if we choose to live a life that dishonors people, who is to say that, we will be honored when we most need it? If we live our lives in total disrespect, then what happens when we need someone to show us respect? If we don’t give dignity to others, who will treat us with dignity, when we need it the most?
Once there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled; when he ate he clattered the silverware distressingly, missed his mouth with the spoon as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife didn’t like the arrangement.
“I can’t have this,” she said. “It interferes with my right to happiness.” So she and her husband took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner.
One day his hands trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke. “If you are a pig,” said the daughter-in-law, “you must eat out of a trough.” So they made him a little wooden trough and he got his meals in that.
These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One evening the young man noticed his boy playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.
“I’m making a trough,” he said, smiling up for approval, “to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.”
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. Then they cried a little. They then went to the corner and took the old man by the arm and led him back to the table. They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.
“Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:17).