The Boy Scout oath begins, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,” but honor is a word that has fallen on hard times. People seem to have forgotten what honor means and why it should be valued, so let’s begin by asking, “What is honor?” 

Honor is a social value rather than a psychological value. It’s more than a personal standard like integrity. K.C. Hanson says, “Honor is not simple self-esteem or pride; it is a status-claim which is affirmed by the community.”[1] For example, Gamaliel was “a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people” (Acts 5:34). In other words, honor refers to value.

In a selfish world, you determine your own value. “I don’t care what anyone else thinks; I’m watching out for number one!” That makes for an interesting equation. Honor is inversely related to selfishness. The more I care about my own needs and desires, the less valuable I become to the world around me, including my friends and loved ones. The more I care about others, the more valuable I become, the greater honor I receive. To be an honorable person, means I must put others first, and isn’t that the basis of love?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:9, 10).

Consider these Scriptures:

“The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor,” Proverbs 15:33, see also 18:12).

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21).

“Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool” (Proverbs 26:1).

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).

 “We aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man” (2 Corinthians 8:21).

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4:8).

  [1] Hanson, K. C. (1995). How Honorable! How Shameful! a Cultural Analysis of Matthew’s Makarisms and Reproaches. Semeia, 68, 83.

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