Call it whatever you want… prestige, status, respect, dignity or even being ‘cool’. Nonetheless, it is sought. But therein lies the irony: Honour cannot be attained, it is bestowed. Other people make someone honourable. Honour is given to someone. It doesn’t matter how you say it: You are prestigious, respected, dignified or even cool, simply because someone says you are.
I suppose this is where the line blurs – honour is bestowed, but we still think we can somehow attain it. So what do we do? We try to induce people to bestow us honour. So we try to pick up a cigarette. Or we try to show people how we have the highest tolerance for alcohol. We proudly show off a napkin the air-stewardess gave us with her phone number written on it – even though we’re already married. At other times, our tactics are not so obvious, they are a little bit more subtle: We always try to have answer for everything. We are nice to everyone. We try to be the centre of people’s attention.
We must not be deceived, the highest honour comes from those who know us the best! Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time and you can even fool all of the people some of the time. But you can never fool all of the people all of the time”.
Let me put it a little bit more simply:
- Honour is bestowed, not attained.
- Those who know us will be able to determine whether we are deserving of honour.
- Those who know us best will be will be able to most accurately determine whether we are deserving of honour.
- Therefore, honour is accurately bestowed by those who know us best.
- Honour that is determined by those who know us best is true honour.
- Therefore, true honour is bestowed by those who know us best.
- True honour is the highest form of honour.
- Therefore, the highest honour is bestowed by those who know us best.
The argument is quite simple: The highest honour comes from those who know us best. Why? Because those are the people who know us inside out. They’ve seen us at our best times and our worst times. They know us intimately enough to be able to see through all the facades we might put on when we are in front of other people. For example, a man may be the most popular guy among his colleagues because he appears to be so knowledgeable and nice, but I his wife will be able to accurately confirm of deny that. He may be popular with other members of his church, for example, because he serves in various ministries and always appears with a smile. But it will be his wife who sees him at home, away from church members and pastors, too lazy to help with the housework and scowling at her because of his bad mood. Though the church may sing his praises, the wife may not. She sees through his hypocrisies.
True honour, that is the highest honour, is given by those who know us best. It is sad how we forget that, sometimes. We go all out to impress our boss with the extra hours we put in at work – but our spouses or children are left to eat dinner by themselves. We impress our church members with all the ‘spiritual words’ and ‘religious works’ – but our children grow up ignoring the God their parents worshipped. Our friends pat us on the back because we’ve ‘still got that charm’ – meanwhile, our spouses are at home wondering what time we’re coming home. We trade the highest honour of those who know us best for the cheap praise of those we managed to deceive (though we may not think it in these terms).
But, who are those who know us best?
I believe that each of us will have our own answers to this. However, I have alluded to one very important group of people who can bestow us the highest honour here on earth. It is so sad to know that these people are easily overlooked in our manic pursuit of honour in our dog-eat-dog world today. Maybe they are the easiest to take for granted because they are constantly at hand, as we see them everyday. They are our family.
Whether it is our spouse, or our parents, or our children, or even our siblings – they are our family. They are those who have spent a major portion of their lives with us, as we have also spent a major portion of our lives with them. It is therefore obvious that they will have a great say in accurately determining whether we are deserving of honour.
Do we spend too much time seeking the favour of others, at the expense of those who are nearest and, supposedly dearest, to our hearts? What would our family’s testimony of our lives be like? Would they decide that we have lived a life of honour in their eyes?
Perhaps there is one more person who knows us well enough to accurately determine whether we are truly worthy of the highest honours. It would be truly unwise to overlook this Person – for the honour He bestows will affect us for eternity. The highest honour is determined by those who know us best, and I believe that the foremost person who knows us best is God.
“O LORD, you have examined me, and you know me. You alone know when I sit down and when I get up. You read my thoughts from far away. You watch me when I travel and when I rest. You are familiar with all my ways. Even before there is a single word on my tongue, you know all about it, LORD.”
– Psalm 139:1-4, God’s Word
God knows us – intimately. He knows every inch of us. Every moment of our lives. As such, the honour bestowed by God is the highest honour. Who else, who has seen us in our best times, and our worst times (even under the cover of darkness) would still, “for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2, New International Version)? That is a great comfort, and also a great warning. God can also see through our facades, my friends. The layers of masks that we put on are transparent to the One who is omniscient. It is God’s pleasure that will determine the highest honour. So, let us
“…make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due them for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
– Colossians 5:9, New International Version
Call it whatever you want… prestige, status, respect, dignity or even being ‘cool’. It doesn’t change the fact that all this is given by someone else. We cannot induce it from them – we can only try to place ourselves in a position that is worthy of receiving this honour. And those who know us best will not only be able, but will be more than willing, to bestow us the highest honour. Only then, will we be truly honourable.
Copyright © 2 April 2002, Wong Giok Leigh. All Rights Reserved.