“Love…It does not dishonor others…” In our daily interactions, do we bring honor or dishonor to those around us? People are messy…life is messy…and imperfect people walk into bad decisions in life, and we can choose to honor or dishonor people. I think about Joseph before the Angel visited him. If I was in Joseph’s position, I would have come to a reasonable conclusion that Mary cheated on me and would not have wanted to be with her…(can you imagine that conversation?) Yet Mathew says that “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” How would I have responded to this? If I was in the close-knit group of friends around them what would I have done?
Unfortunately, I think that I/we are continually dishonoring the people around us by gossip at best, and half-truths at worse. We want to know things that in so many cases are not really any of our business. We can justify that we want to know so that we can pray for people (though I question how much prayer is really taking place) when the reality is we like a good scandal or disgrace. And how do we respond when we hear all the juicy details? We get self righteously “shocked” that someone could do something, not seeing that we ourselves have done the same or worse. In my youth when my life was much messier, I remember all too well people telling me how shocked they were that I had done something, and the result was that I not only felt alienated from God, I was alienated from the very people who “loved me”.
I find that so much of the dishonor comes when there is a conflict and we don’t want to see out part of the conflict or want to dismiss others. I have seen, heard or said “that person did not have a quiet time” or “that person did not pray enough” or “did you know that right before that person and I had our conflict they fighting with their wife or husband?” When we do this we try to justify that the person is “unspiritual” and the problem…when we do this we are dishonoring them.
I am not saying that we should be a permissive “anything goes” environment or that there is not a time and place for Church discipline (it ultimately helped me) but I think that we are too quick to publicly disgrace people not for their good, but for ours.
As I write this, I am convicted by my own words as I consider the numerous times I have talked about things that should not be discussed….how I have torn people down rather than building them up. I have to ask myself continually am I honoring people? How do I practice a love that brings honor rather than dishonor to people, the church, and the world?