How do we move beyond virtue signaling into living out the virtues God calls us to? First, we have to identify some of the virtues that aren’t as common in our culture today—starting with honor.
It’s easy to honor people when they live honorable lives. But what about dishonorable leaders?
As difficult as it can be, we’re called to show honor before someone lives honorably. In fact, showing honor often helps the person become more honorable in the process.
We see this throughout Scripture, but it’s particularly evident in David’s story. As a young shepherd, David defeats the giant, Goliath, and is later anointed king of Israel. But it was years before that calling would come to fruition.
God anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king, but over time, Saul became prideful and publicly disobeyed God. He viewed David as competition, and he tried to get David killed several times, even though David had always served him well.
David was faced with an unjust leader who viewed him as a threat. And at the same time, David knew that God had called him to one day fill Saul’s role.
Imagine David’s dilemma when he has the opportunity to kill Saul not once, but twice. All of David’s advisors want him to do it. He’s literally been on the run because Saul wants him dead.
And yet—David shows Saul honor by refusing to harm him, saying:
“ … I shouldn’t attack the LORD’s anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him. … May the LORD judge between us. Perhaps the LORD will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you.” 1 Samuel 24:6, 12 NLT
David knew that someone else’s sins don’t justify yours. Saul was in the wrong, but he was still God’s anointed leader. David was still called to serve, obey, and show honor.
Your situation may not be as dramatic as David’s, but you do have a choice whether to extend honor or withhold it. And as tempting as it is to dishonor someone by gossiping about them, disobeying them, criticizing them, or undermining them, we can learn an important lesson from David: Someone else’s failure shouldn’t disrupt your faithfulness.
And when David showed honor, Saul changed as a result. It didn’t fix every aspect of Saul’s character, but it did show the fruit of David’s. Here’s how Saul responded:
And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it.” 1 Samuel 24:17-18 NLT
When we show honor, it inspires others to live more honorably, and it honors God.
Showing honor doesn’t mean you never stand up for yourself or that you can’t remove yourself from a toxic situation, but it does mean that we will live out the true virtue of honor as Scripture calls us to:
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10 NLT
Pray: God, You are worthy of all honor and praise. Thank You for who You are. Help me take delight in honoring others, even when it’s difficult. Show me any areas where I haven’t been extending honor, and guide me as I seek to live a life that honors You and others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Challenge: Think of one way you can show honor to someone else today, then do it.