My name is Michael and I feel honored to have been asked to share some thoughts about honoring God. I know I have not always done it well, but I also know that deep in my heart there is a consistent desire to “esteem, to highly value, to regard with great respect” (definition of “honor”) our amazing God.
- What do you value most greatly?
- What is most precious to you?
- What do you feel you absolutely cannot live without?
Take a minute to ponder this and search your heart.
Hmmm… So, princess, what is your answer?
Is it your parents?
Perhaps it is the approval of your parents. Perhaps you feel that if you were to lose their approval, to greatly disappoint them, or to bring shame on them in some way, it would be hard to imagine continuing to live in that condition.
In fact, in certain cultures, the behavior of a young woman has the potential to honor or disgrace the entire family in the eyes of the community; in such cases, her desire to honor her family is extreme… This is noble.
God wants to be honored even more than that.
Is it a guy?
Perhaps you value most greatly the approval of a special man in your life. Perhaps this person is the first thought on your mind in the morning; and the last, lingering, tug at your heart as you fall asleep each night. You check your phone expectantly, at all hours, wondering if he has a special thought for you. Perhaps you find yourself with distracted, anxious thoughts and anticipating your next phone call, longing to hear his voice. At any given moment you wonder if he is thinking of you. You often find yourself daydreaming about your future together.
If he were to leave you, you would feel devastated, listless, and adrift. Perhaps life would not feel worth living.
God wants to be honored – with your heart, your emotions, your thoughts, and your time – even more than that.
Is it your friends?
Some princesses find that their status with their friends and social groups is most precious to them. Perhaps you have a certain reputation, which you have worked hard to earn. You are the smart one, or the one who solves everyone else’s problems, or the kind and generous one. Perhaps you are the trustworthy one, the one who can always be depended on, or the one who can keep a secret. You are a better friend than anyone else you know, and people often tell you so. And part of you likes hearing it.
Is it your social status?
You may have an image in the community because of who your family is: you have a role – which comes with expectations – and you fulfill them capably. You have money, beauty, lots of friends, (and even more admirers). Like the princesses of olden days, you put on whatever face is needed so that you can be lovely, beautiful, fun, entertaining and socially appropriate, (all at the same time!) when called upon. You are a social star. Other young women want to be like you and wish they had the status you had. Some part of you is deeply attached to this status and, if it were pulled away in an instant, you would be devastated.
God wants to be more precious in your life than any reputation you have in the eyes of others.
The Story of Queen Esther
Consider the example of Queen Esther: She had status as the most favored woman of the most powerful man in the world at that time. She had won the nationwide beauty contest! Not only so, but she was smart, socially skilled, and widely admired by everyone who met her. She made such an impression on the king that he elevated her out of the harem and made her queen – placing a crown on her head, throwing a banquet in her honor, and even proclaiming a national holiday to celebrate her coronation (Esther 2:1-20).
She had escaped the servile existence of her Jewish people as they lived in exile under Persian oppression. She “had arrived” (so to speak) and in spectacular fashion. And yet, when she saw that her people were in mortal danger, she did not turn her back on them. She fasted for three days, and then risked her life by approaching the king without being summoned.
Esther honored God.
Moses is another fantastic example, in exactly the same kind of way. Having been delivered from his past – a life of slavery in the Egyptian empire, with no status, no hope, and no future — he found himself miraculously taken in to the palace of the most powerful man in the world. He was made a prince, and given all the privilege, power, education and upbringing associated with such status. And yet, the bible tells us “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Moses honored God.
When I Did Not Have to, I Chose to Honor Him
Let me close by sharing an example from my life that I hope can be an encouragement to you. I am a doctor (M.D.) here in the United States. Being a doctor has been a joy and a privilege. It is also a profession that carries with it a large measure of status and respect: You are known as someone who is — by definition — intelligent, compassionate, hard working, and financially well off. Parents want their kids to be like you; women often dream of marrying someone like you.
Every year thousands of students, from all over the world, flood American medical schools with applications, dreaming of admission. Only a few are chosen.
Of all the medical schools in the world, I was accepted at Harvard — considered by most to be the most prestigious of all.
I knew that God had brought me there.
So you know what I did on my very first night on campus? After settling in to my dormitory room, I walked out late at night, alone, to the Gordon Hall of Medicine building. I knelt down on those steps, I bowed my head in prayer, I thanked God for bringing me there, and I dedicated my education to him.
Then years later, with my diploma in hand, it was my last night in Boston and I knew I had a special trip to make.
I returned, alone, late at night, to those very same steps. I knelt down; I bowed my head; I cried. And I thanked God for everything he had done.
Princesses, my prayer is that you may find new depths of connection with and joy in God as you honor him.
You will never be disappointed that you did.
My very best wishes,
1 Samuel 2:30
Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.