Question: "What does it mean to honor God?"
Answer: Revelation 4:10–11 describes a scene in heaven: “The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and . . . lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.’” The words translated “glory” and “honor” are closely related and often used interchangeably in the Bible. But there is a subtle difference between them. The word most often translated “glory” means “something that has inherent, intrinsic worth” while the word translated “honor” means “perceived value; to render or esteem glorious.”
Glory is a quality inherent in the one being glorified. Glory can be thought of as a mirror that accurately reflects what is there. When we accurately reflect the character of God, we glorify Him. To glorify God is to honor Him for who He really is. God has glory because He is infinitely valuable. Human beings have glory because we are created in the image of the One who is all-glorious (Genesis 1:27). We glorify God when we demonstrate through word or action His glorious character or deeds. Modeling the character of Jesus is a way to glorify God, because we are showcasing His attributes. When we glorify God, we bring Him honor.
Honor originates in our hearts and refers to the value we personally place on something or someone. Collectors hold certain items in higher esteem than non-collectors do. What others overlook may be highly valued by someone else and therefore honored. We honor other people to the degree that we consider their position and contributions significant. We are commanded to honor people because of their position, not their performance. We are commanded to honor our fathers and mothers (Deuteronomy 5:16; Mark 7:10), the elderly (Leviticus 19:32), and those who rule over us (1 Peter 2:17). When we honor God, we are demonstrating the high regard we have for Him. We are reflecting His glory back as praise and worship.
The Bible shows many ways to honor and glorify God. We show Him high regard and reflect His character by being sexually pure (1 Corinthians 6:18–20), by giving of our income (Proverbs 3:9), and by living lives devoted to Him (Romans 14:8). It is not enough to merely honor Him outwardly. God desires honor that comes from our hearts. “The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’” (Isaiah 29:13). When we delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), seek Him in everything we do (1 Chronicles 16:11; Isaiah 55:6), and make choices that reflect the place He has in our hearts, we bring Him the greatest honor.
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