Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 5
If you grew up in Nigeria, you would likely be familiar with the “Am I your mate?” ringtone. It is very likely the number one most heard ringtone of every Nigerian child. Or at least it comes close. Perhaps followed by “Are you talking to me?” and “Do you know who I am?”. Every careless statement to your Nigerian parents was likely followed by that legendary ringtone, sometimes accompanied by a complimentary physical gesture (on your face). It wasn’t only parents though. You heard the ringtone from older siblings, secondary school seniors, teachers, the bread seller on your street…
Unfortunately, I believe that one of the implications of our culture when it comes to having regard for older people and those in authority over us, is that the truth about what it means to truly honour can become really fuzzy. Most of us end up somewhere between two extremes:
On the one hand, there is the tendency to be on edge in these relationships and completely closed out to the honour conversation; or on the other hand develop an attitude of mere lip-service and ‘men-pleasing’… what the Yoruba would call ‘eye-of-the-world’.
Yet, our reading today shows us that there is a standard of honour when it comes to those placed over us either by age or authority, that we should be aiming to live our lives by. Honour is a very big deal to God! I believe the following handles from Paul’s charge to Timothy would be of great help to us in our own journey of seeking to honor those in our lives that God places over us.
- Honor is in the adverb.
“Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters” 1 Timothy 5:1 MSG
Every context we find ourselves in: A job we wake up to everyday, a team we serve with in church, a Life Group we converse with and so on comes with its own peculiar set of ‘whats’: A job description to keep up with, a meeting to attend, a conversation to have, a responsibility to live up to… and so on. Within these spaces, we will win in our honour conversations for those over us by what we do with the ‘hows’. How you give feedback, how you offer an opinion, how you respond to a kickback, how you offer counsel. This is isn’t about surface actions with no depth but about allowing your obedience to God play out in giving attention to ‘how’. Will honour influence how you respond to a feedback from your Life Group or Team Lead? Will honour influence how you offer an opinion to your boss at work? Will honour influence how you respond in a disagreement with your parents?
Remember adverbs? They are those tiny little words that pack a world of difference when it comes to two exact same actions. Win with your ‘how’!
- Honor is in the no.
“Support widows who are genuinely widows.” 1 Timothy 5:3 NKJV
Honour is not sentimental or emotional! It is not in foolish or careless actions that have no real value or aren’t based on principle. One of the most important things to guard against in our honour journeys is slipping into a mere sense of sentiment and men-pleasing. Our honour for those we should be honouring will play out in what we say no to even more than what we say yes to. The lines we draw to protect those we honour is the biggest statement of our obedience to God in our honour conversations. Your No to conversations that dishonour your parents is a bigger statement of your honour than the one page of accolades you post on their birthdays. A dishonouring joke you kick against about your leader in Church when they’re not in the room is a bigger statement than the flowery words you shower on them when they’re there. Your honour is in your no.
- Honor is in the verb.
“ Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching” 1 Timothy 5:17 NLT
Your hand is the ultimate announcer of your heart. Not emotions or words. How much you value a thing will ultimately come down to how your much your hand is stretched towards it. I love how Jesus puts it in Matthew 6:21:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This really encourages me! Because it means that I can deliberately set my heart in a direction of honour by putting my hand towards it. Whether or not I feel like it, or feel good about it, deliberately stretching my hands in generosity towards those in authority over me is obedience to God’s command to honour! What does my monthly budget say about my honour for my parents? What story do my monthly expenses tell about my honour for my boss or department head at work, my church leaders or mentors?
Something to Pray
Pray today for a heart to truly honour and value those in your world that God places in authority over you- in thought, in word and in deed.
Taiwo serves as a Volunteer Leader at Sycamore