Photo by Jose Warletta
When we talked, I was struck by (what seemed to me) the difference between the idea of seeking honor and doing honorable things. Our conversation got pushed to my mind's back burner but didn't disappear.
I was reading from the book of Romans the other day and ran across an interesting passage in the second chapter...
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are selfseeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
So here, we see how we can seek glory, honor, immortality, and peace for ourselves and be perfectly just in doing so.
In fact, the only righteous thing to do is to seek glory, honor, immortality, and peace. The nice thing? Righteousness is the only way to actually gain these things. For glory, honor, immortality, and peace from God are much better than the versions that humans give. And yet this passage clearly lists them in the context of humility and a realization of human failure. Because the other point of this passage flow is to show how such things are unattainable through human effort.
In chapter 3, we read:
We then learn that in fact, blessing doesn't come as a result of living an honorable life, but rather that an honorable life comes as a result of free blessing through the grace of Christ. Later, we learn that our aspiration to righteousness dooms us as much as any aspiration to sin, but that the Spirit is our only hope to living a good life.
The same grace that make a righteous life possible secures the glory, honor, and peace we might have otherwise sought by running the futile hamster wheel of personal righteousness. This is the beautiful mystery of grace.
Although I have not expressed it in such terms, this is the sort of honor that I have associated with the honors program at Etown. I think it is fitting and laudable to honor, aid, and encourage those who are willing to seek honor from God. What is better than to align our praise and endowment of honor to those who God Himself would honor? No doubt, there are difficulties, since E-Town is no longer a primarily religious college (was it ever? I cannot say). But it should not be a difficulty for us to honor the righteous. It should be a pleasure.
For those who join an honors program as a Christian, this biblical honor must be our orienting goal.