Honor is a word people throw around like hero, upstanding, and faithful. What does honor mean? The Oxford Dictionary (US) defines it as high respect or privilege. The Christian defines it in the same way as we learn from the Holy Scriptures in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
The Hebrew word in the Fourth Commandment that deserves a lot of attention is כָּבַד (kabad or kabed). The Lord uses this word emphasizing the relationship of the child to his/her parents. Honor thy father and mother. The word honor or even glorify is an imperative verb. The Lord commands honor of us not only toward our parents but to those whom the Lord has given authority over us.
When I was growing up, my father and grandfathers taught me that honor was a badge you wore and people knew it by the way you spoke, acted, and engaged others. You see the badge of honor given to those who serve in the military depicted above. The Medal of Honor is the highest honor the United States conveys on one of her warriors.
The Christian bears a different badge of honor. It cannot be seen. The Christians badge of honor is the crucifix.
How does the Christian display their badge of honor? Let’s take a look at St. Paul’s epistle to the Church in Galatia where he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
When the Christian serves his/her neighbor through faith, the badge of honor of the crucified One is witnessed through said service and glorifies (honors) God because of Jesus Christ. Christianity is tough. It is a daily struggle against the Old Adam and against the devil. We fail everyday to display our Christian Badge of Honor because we are sinners.
The Christian displays his/her Badge of Honor every time mercy if extended or forgiveness is sought or received. Honor is noting to take lightly. Usually, a warrior in the military only receives the Medal of Honor when they died in service for their country (sometimes a warrior receives it while living).
For the Christian, there is no badge waiting to be pinned on your chest. There are no ceremonies being planned to celebrate your deeds. There is the living Christ who suffered and died in the stead of every sinner to atone for the sins of the world.
Jesus put His Badge of Honor on you in Holy Baptism; it’s called the cloak of righteousness. Yes, as one Baptized in the Name of the Triune God, you bear the Badge of Honor that saved your life from an eternal death. It’s not a pretty badge like the military uses because it’s blood stained with the Blood of the atoning sacrifice Jesus made for you.
I encourage you to walk in the Light of the crucified and risen Christ and wear your Badge of Honor with honor in service to one another.
Peace be with you.
Rev. John F. Wurst
Maple City, Michigan