[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
These past few weeks in South Africa we have heard and heard over again the word “honourable” while watching the State of the nation address (SONA) and while watching the debate the parliamentarians had on what happened at the SONA. That word was heard so many times in our country that it became a word that dominated our newspapers days after the address. The parliamentarians themselves questioned if their fellow parliamentary members were worthy to be called honourable. The speech by the Democratic Alliance’s parliament leader Mmusi Maimane is particularly memorable as he addressed our president. He said “When I use the term ‘honourable’ I do it out of respect for the traditions and conventions of this august house. But please do not take it literally; for you, honourable President, are not an honourable man. You are a broken man presiding over a broken society,” he said.
Like many South Africans I listened to his speech and was moved by those words. Indeed if you speak to any South African who loves this country and who wants our nation to prosper they will admit that something has indeed been broken in our country. More and more South Africans are calling for change.
What is honour?
As I watched each parliamentarian trying to find fault with another and calling each other names I began to wonder if indeed what Maimane was saying was true. On what basis is he saying that the president is not honourable? What is honour? Before I could agree or disagree with Maimane on his judgement of President Zuma I had to ask myself if I am an honourable woman myself. If I was in that parliament would my fellow parliamentarians feel forced to say I am honourable Neziswa Kanju or would they say it without thinking twice about it. What would have made me earn their respect?
It is one thing to have an opinion to what is happening to our politicians. What we sometimes forget is that they are human beings as well just like us. They have lives outside of politics. Parliamentarians still go home to be a husband and a wife. Someone out there says mama or dad to them. What do their families say about them? As much as the spotlight is on them when they are in Parliament they go home to their families. How do their actions affect their loved ones?
I brought this question closer to my reality. Am I a woman of honour? Do I bring honour to my husband? Do I bring honour to my children?
Honour your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12). It is the only commandment that has a promise. God did not say observe the Sabbath and your days will be longer; or if you do not covet your neighbour’s wife or not steal he will reward you with long life; He made that promise when it came to honouring our parents. This shows how important honour is to our Lord. I must admit I never really thought or studied honour until recently. As I studied I realised that the Bible is full of verses about honour and that God expects us to practice honour in our relationships.
The Oxford dictionary describes honour as “Honour means high respect; great esteem; the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right. Something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege”.
Our actions affect others
Are we bringing honour in our own individual lives; in our own families; in our own marriages? Are we bringing honour? In our own small little circle of influence sometimes we do things that bring great honour and dishonour. Unfortunately our actions do not only affect us. They don’t only stop with us they affect our families. If you are a young person who engages in premarital sex and falls pregnant the result of that sexual act will affect your entire family because they will have to take care of the child that you will bring home. If you are married and decide to cheat on your spouse that decision will affect your marriage and children as you might contract HIV that you pass on to your innocent spouse. In years to come that one act will leave your children as orphans because mom or dad did a dishonourable thing that resulted in the whole family paying the price. THE FAMILY ALWAYS PAYS THE PRICE OF OUR ACTIONS IF THEY ARE NEGATIVE AND THE FAMILY RECEIVES THE PRAISE AND BENEFITS FROM OUR ACTIONS WHEN WE DO WELL. Either way the family will be affected.
Your actions do affect everybody associated with you. They affect how your children are seen. How your children are treated. Your actions affect how your wife or husband is treated and seen. Your mother; your siblings; everybody associated with you is affected by your actions. It is not just about you. It is not just about me. We reap what we sow. WHEN ONE SOWS HE SOWS A SMALL SEED BUT WHEN ONE REAPS HE REAPS A BIGGER HARVEST.
I was moved to tears by the story of Hyvon Ngetich. Ngetich is the Kenyan runner who at the Austin Marathon recently (February 15, 2015) showed such courage and determination. She was an obvious winner of that race and had a short distance before crossing the finish line but a few meters to the finish her body gave in and she could not run anymore. Medical staff ran to her aid bringing a wheel chair. She refused to use the wheel chair choosing rather to CRAWL TO THE FINISH LINE! She crawled 50 meters and finished in third place.
The Austin Marathon race Director John Conley said to her “You ran the bravest race and crawled the bravest crawl I have ever seen in my life. You have earned much honour.”
I am sharing thing story because of what Mr Conley said to Hyvon Ngetich: YOU HAVE EARNED MUCH HONOUR. I pondered on how I have heard that word honour used so differently; directed to two different individuals under different circumstances. One is a leader of a nation whose sons and daughters are increasingly questioning if he should continue to lead and another is an ordinary woman whose act of courage led the director of a marathon race who does not know her personally say she has earned MUCH honour. I imagine every Kenyan who hears this story lifts his or her head just a little higher and walks just a little bolder facing the world with that much more determination because of their fellow Kenyan. I do not know Hyvon but something in me agrees with Mr Conley in saying indeed she has earned MUCH HONOUR! I have never been to Kenya but I found myself respecting that country just a little more because of the bravery of Ms Ngetich.
How are we bringing honour to our relationships and our country at large? How do we treat each other? Are we contributing to racism? Are we contributing to emotional abuse by the way we talk to others? Are we respectful to others?
Outdo one another
The Bible says in Romans 12: 9-13 — Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
OUTDO ONE ANOTHER IN SHOWING HONOUR! May we live and practice this verse and as we purpose to live it practically may we be found to be deserving to be called a man or a woman of honour. May we purpose in our hearts to be more like Ms Ngetich who even if she was broken determined to not give up. Let us not be found giving up but determine to bring great pride to our families and nation as loved one and citizens of honour!