My son, Hudson, began “honor-training” when he was around five years old. It was a hilarious training process, really. For one thing, noble behavior seems odd and out of place nowadays. And it’s even funnier when a little five-year-old boy makes a valiant attempt at chivalry.
Right around the time I began training Hudson in the principles of honor, he got a foam sword from Walgreens. Immediately, he kicked into a whole new manly gear, slicing and dicing the air in pursuit of imaginary villains. It was all quite innocent and adorable until he whacked his little sister Harper on the head with his new weapon. I’m sure it didn’t hurt on the outside, but it definitely bruised her little heart on the inside to be so blatantly whacked by her big brother.
Such moments are perfect opportunities for honor training.
“Hudson,” I said firmly, while bending down to comfort the wailing Harper, “you are NEVER to use your sword to hit your sister. A man of honor uses his sword to protect people, not hurt them.”
We talked for some time about the commission of a Jesus-forged gentleman. Since that infamous day, Hudson has begun to learn that a God-built hero always has eyes to see those weaker than himself, and his sword is always available for their help and rescue. In fact, Hudson’s biggest dream in life is to one day be a mighty, heroic rescuer of orphans.
Honor is made up of simple ideas, concepts that are so obviously needed for the formation of a godly man or woman. Principles such as self-sacrifice, protecting the weak, and treating others with dignity and respect are all but lost in this post-modern, “it’s-all-about me” generation. But God’s principles of honor are not time-worn and dated. They are as fresh today as they were when Jesus modeled them to perfection 2,000 years ago. Truth is never old-fashioned. It may be ancient, but it is very much alive.
Ellerslie puts a strong emphasis on honor. That’s because God has given Leslie and me a longing to see nobility, selflessness, and triumph infused into Christianity once again. Men and women of godly honor, self-sacrifice, and heroism—fully adept at handling their God-given sword. Those who place the glory of God and the needs of others far above their own fleshly desires and earthly comforts. Those who are willing to lay down the trivial distractions of this world and follow Christ to the ends of the earth.
Christianity, as we know it in this modern era, has grown soft. It lacks backbone, grit, and bravehearted men and women willing to live and die for Jesus Christ. But not only has it become soft—it has grown worldly and coarse. As modern Christians, all too many of us have lost the purity, the godly character, and the noble selflessness that God intended us to have as His sons and daughters. Christian honor is hard to come by in today’s self-indulgent church.
Like little five-year-olds left untrained in the pattern of heavenly decorum, too many of us are unwittingly thwacking others with the blunt edge of our swords—selfishly hurting, rather than heroically protecting. If you don’t know exactly what I mean by this, just think about the way most of us approach guy/girl relationships. How many of us have left a slew of bruised and wounded hearts in our wake as a result of seeking to satisfy our selfish whims? How often does a modern guy actually stand up and fight to protect a girl’s purity, rather than trying to conquer it? How often does a modern girl actually help preserve the integrity of a man’s soul, rather than enticing him toward lust and compromise? How many of us have a history of sin and selfishness that we deeply regret?
I yearn for a return of honor, a rebirth of dignity and strength within the corridors of the church—not just in the area of relationships, but in every dimension of our conduct as Christians. May our actions, attitudes, and decisions begin to actually bless and change this world for God’s glory—rather than diminishing the great Name we are privileged to represent.
Christian honor is a work of grace. It is not the by-product of human discipline and moral grit, but rather the outworking of the indwelling Christ. All the honor-training in the world cannot birth the substance of real-life honor into my little boy—only Christ can accomplish it, through His grace. But when God gains access to Hudson’s life, fully and completely, He will build Christ’s very character, behavior, and nobility into him. He will demonstrate, through Hudson’s life, what God is actually like in manner, speech, and action.
God wants to show this world, through my son, what heavenly behavior really looks like. And He wants to do the same through me and through you.
So what does God’s honor-training look like? How does God enable us, by His grace, to showcase His heavenly nature to this world?
The Secret to Christian Honor: 3 elements of grace:
In studying the pattern of the Gospel in Scripture, we find three dimensions of grace at work within the believer’s life:
First, there is the ushering grace of God that warms our unbelieving soul to His Spirit and awakens us to our utter need for His salvation. Ushering grace draws us to the Cross (see 1 Jn. 4:19; Eph. 2:8).
Second, there is the empowering grace of God that enables a weak and sinful man or woman to be made strong and triumphant over sin (see Col. 1:27; 1 Tim. 3:16; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:11-13).
Finally, there is the polishing grace of God that refines a man or woman to behave with heavenly decorum amidst a dark and polluted world (see Rom. 6:11-14; 1 Pet. 1:13-16; 1 Jn. 4:14).
Grace must first usher, then empower in order that it might then polish and perfect.
We are found by grace, saved by grace, built by grace, enabled by grace every moment of every day, and thusly are intended to become pictures of grace that this world might behold the beauty and majesty of the Most High.
The polishing and perfecting work of grace is what is largely missing in our modern era. Many of us know the ushering grace of God, a few of us know the empowering grace of God, but hardly any of us knows the polishing and perfecting grace of God.
God desires to lead each of His children through honor-training; to equip us to showcase His nature and character through our actions, attitudes, and daily conduct. But not many of us even realize this vital element of grace is missing from our Christian lives.
When all you have ever experienced in your Christian walk is the ushering grace, it can be hard to comprehend His empowering grace—let alone swallow the idea of His polishing and perfecting grace. But, this triumvirate of grace was the purchase of the Cross—the deposit of Christ’s very Spirit, the invasion of His divine nature into our own—that we might be conformed into the very image of Jesus Christ (see Rom. 8:29).
What Does Christian Honor Look Like?
So, what does this grace-enabled Christian honor look like up close?
Most of us have never seen it, and therefore we don’t have a vision for its return. We have never understood its importance or witnessed its spectacular beauty in a personal way.
Christian honor is far more than Jane Austen gentility and social refinement. It’s more than restraining from whacking your sister on the head with your little foam sword.
There are six key behavioral dimensions to the concept of godly, Biblical honor:
Honor is simply God’s grace—in action, in word, in countenance, and in attitude. It is the Christian man or woman being made into an actual, real-life picture of grace for the world to witness.
Jesus was God incarnate. Honor is grace incarnate. Honor is the evidence of grace at work in the believer’s soul.
Grace ushers, then empowers in order that it might then polish and perfect. So we, as Christ’s church, are to become ushers, inviting the lost into the presence of our King; empowerers, lending our strength to the weak all over the world; and polished mirrors of His person, clearly demonstrating the nature of our great God in every word spoken and every deed done.
This is the Ellerslie vision—to encompass the triumvirate (three-part) work of grace in our teaching and training, and build men and women of Christian honor, made strong that they might be readied to pour out their strength on behalf of the weak.
Like my boy Hudson, may we be shaped into heroic rescuers who know how to wield our swords for God’s glory, protect and serve the weak, and lay down our lives for the Gospel of Christ.
For the Kingdom and the King’s glory,
President, Ellerslie Mission Society