Training Wheels

Honor is not a subject you hear much about these days. If anything, we’ve become much more accustomed to disrespect and dishonor. The urban slang for disrespect, or “dis,” has made its way into everyday language. Most anyone can tell you what it means to “dis” someone. Or worse, to be “dissed.”

Honor.  Simply put, the word means to treat someone with respect or admiration.  It has to do with qualities like honesty, integrity and dignity. The biblical version of honor is much weightier. Lofty.  It speaks to the precious worth of the person being honored and is related to words like glory, worship or prize.

Most of us yearn to be treated with respect. We benefit not only from receiving honor but also from giving it to others.

God set the bar low so that even a child can show honor.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2,3).  You could call this the “the training wheels of honor” (Exodus 20:12).

When children honor their earthly parents, they begin to grasp what it means to honor their heavenly Father.

Perhaps it’s time to recapture this age-old virtue. We can start by honoring God.  But let’s do so with a sense of expectancy. For God Himself makes this bold promise: “Those who honor me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).

Are You an Ezer?

Everything God created was good. But He looked at Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Something was missing.  So God said: “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

God created woman from the very stuff of man—his same substance: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs …Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man…” (Genesis 2:20-24).

Marriage was God’s gift to humans. Eve was Adams’s companion, but the Bible also calls her his helper. In Hebrew, “helper,” or ezer means “to support.”  It’s a combination of two roots: “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong.”  Ezer is a powerful word.  In fact, in the Bible,  it most often refers to Almighty God as our helper, usually in times of danger or battle.

When you grasp what it means to be an ezer, you begin to get an image of woman as a rock, not a doormat. Your challenge is to become strong so that you are a source of strength for a husband who will sometimes be weak.

I’ve learned that an important part of showing honor to a strong husband like David is to be his “rock of support” when everything around him feels like it’s crashing down.

Think about what it means to be strong like a “rock” for our husbands, families, and communities. Lord knows we need more women who are willing to live strong as ezers in this hurting and broken world.

Thirsty for Honor

Several years ago my husband’s beloved college basketball coach, North Carolina’s legendary Dean Smith, passed away.  Next to his own father, David says Smith was the most significant man in his life. Even superstar Michael Jordan called Smith his “second father.” No wonder David felt compelled to capture his experience playing under Dean Smith in It’s How You Play the Game, his own version of the Dean Smith story.

When I first met my basketball player-turned-preacher husband, I was a University of Georgia girl and a die-hard football fan. Basketball, not so much.

But I loved David and I grew to love basketball.  Coach Smith sent me a handwritten note welcoming me to the “Carolina Family.”  He always remembered my alma mater and my college major.  He even knew our children by name.  Seriously. Who does that?

When Coach Smith died,  the overwhelming public reaction spoke to me of a deep yearning for role models.  For dads.  For men of honor.  I remember being inspired to hastily fire off an editorial honoring the good guys in our lives. (click here).

The reaction to my editorial  intrigued me.  A prominent defense attorney in town sent me a handwritten note sharing how his own father had been such an honorable man–and how deeply he missed him since his passing.  A federal judge and a bank president both weighed in on the subject of honor. Young moms wrote to tell me about their “amazing husbands” and vowed to be more intentional to honor them. Had I touched a nerve?

Maybe it’s because honor is gradually disappearing from our homes, our classrooms, and our culture in general. Families today are in trouble. Studies show that 70% of divorces are now initiated by women. Even the gender wars are taking their toll.

Honor was God’s idea in the first place—especially in marriage.  No wonder we’re thirsty for this sometimes forgotten virtue.  I wonder what would happen if we sparked a movement of honor in our homes, our communities, and our world?


The Lost Art of Honor

“I don’t enjoy going to lunch with my work friends anymore,”” my young friend confided over coffee. “The conversation always turns into husband bashing.” Her own marriage wasn’t perfect, she admitted. “I’m a very transparent person,” she smiled. “So I try to be real.  But I don’t want to dishonor my husband.  And I want my friends to know I truly love being married to him.”

As we talked, she came to the conclusion that it was okay for her be honest with her friends about some of her own marriage struggles.  She could share a few of the positive ways she and her husband have discovered to work through their issues. But she resolved to do this in a manner that would honor both Christ and her husband.

I loved my friend’s heart for her husband and for the Lord.  Knowing her as I do, she’ll be a winsome witness to her friends about what it means to have a godly marriage. And more importantly, what it means to follow Christ.

That conversation was just one of many I had with women of all ages and stages of life while writing a book on the subject of honor.*  I yearn to help wives reclaim the lost art of honoring their husbands.

 Perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at this age-old virtue. We can start by honoring God. “Those who honor me, I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).  Then, let’s explore practical ways to honor our husbands.  Remember, the world is watching us.  And deep down, I believe they’re thirsty for honor—especially honor in marriage.

*adapted from Eight Great Ways to Honor Your Husband.

Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

God is near to the broken hearted.  He loves us when we’re weak.  But He wants to make us strong. It’s not hard to embrace the concept that God is close to us when we suffer. After all, we love our own children and hold them close when they’re in pain.

We may secretly wonder whether God wants to keep us weak so we’ll be more devoted to Him. Sadly, that’s like saying that as a mom, I would rather my children be sick and wounded so they’ll want to hang around me more. Of course not!  I want to help them return to strength so they can live life to the fullest.

But, I have to confess. I have experienced God’s greatest strength during times when I am broken. I would never have known Jesus as healer if I hadn’t gone through years of infertility and the subsequent healing that resulted in our three children. Nor could I have comprehended God’s mighty power if I hadn’t seen Him set me free from stubborn fears. And of course, I could never have grasped His saving grace if I hadn’t come face to face with my condition as a sinner. Perhaps you have your own stories.

Let’s take a few minutes to reflect upon following encounter in 1 Samuel 30. Upon returning from battle, David and his mighty men are horrified to find their village raided and burned, their wives and children taken captive by the violent Amalekites. Click here to read the entire account.

The verse tells us David and his men “wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” Can you imagine the sound? The despair? The men were so distressed they even talked of stoning David. What would you do under these circumstances? Where would you turn for strength?  For David, one simple sentence says it all:

“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

After seeking the Lord, David receives this answer:  “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Which is exactly what happened. David and his men defeated the Amalekites and returned with all their family members safe and sound, along with all that had been stolen. Their victory was riveting—and complete.

I’ll leave you with this simple question: How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord?  My prayer today is that we  become like Paul when he said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).