Day 8

Honor The Image Bearers

from the reading plan

1 Timothy 5:3-6:2, Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16

BY Vivian Mabuni

Text: 1 Timothy 5:3-6:2, Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
– 1 Timothy 5:21, ESV

My arms ached from carrying his newly walking little brother. The 15-hour time change between California and Hong Kong meant waking while it was still dark and a predictable afternoon crash. With only one short week to spend visiting my parents, we determined to squeeze in all we could. The rocking motion from the ferry ride across the Hong Kong harbor put my younger son to sleep, but my preschool aged son knelt on the wooden bench. He strained his neck in order to peer out the window as the ferry carried our family across the dark green colored water. Jonathan watched, eyes barely blinking, as new sights, sounds, smells and an unfamiliar language filled his naturally inquisitive mind.

The long walkway brimmed with people as we exited the ferry. Jonathan skipped along ahead and then I watched as he slowed down, almost to a stop, and tried to make sense of what he saw. A man with no legs, no teeth, matted hair, covered in soot and sores, sat on a flattened cardboard box, begging. A few coins clanked against the metal canister he tapped on the cement. Scores of people hurried by him acting as if he was invisible. I watched Jonathan tilt his head; his young mind had no category for people living in such poverty.

I transferred my sleeping son into my husband’s arms as a quote from the Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason came to mind:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.”

Taking Jonathan’s hand, I pulled him over to the side. Once we moved out of the center of the steady stream of people, I knelt down so we could look straight into each other’s eyes.

“Buddy, did you see the gentlemen over there sitting on the cardboard?”

He nodded.

“I want you to know, Jonathan, that this gentleman is made in the image of God. And because he is made in the image of God he is more beautiful than the sunset. He is precious to God.”

Image bearers are precious to God. All image bearers.

In 1 Timothy 5, the Apostle Paul gives instructions to the young leader-pastor, Timothy, on how to treat people in the church. He covers the gamut by addressing the “least” in the church, the widows (v3-16), and the “greatest,” the elders (v17-20).  He begins by instructing Timothy to honor both the widows and the elders and to “do nothing in a spirit of partiality” (v21). Widows, during the writing of this epistle, lived without any government assistance and occupied a vulnerable place in society, having no authority and often living in extreme poverty. Elders, on the other hand, gave leadership to the churches. Paul addressed both ends of the socio-economic and cultural spectrum as he called Timothy to honor all people in the Church.

Like Timothy, we also are called to honor image bearers.

To honor means to give high esteem and respect.

You and I, and every single person we see, have intrinsic dignity and worth because we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). David describes us as fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

This passage of Scripture challenges me to consider how I view people. Do I show partiality and favor to those who have status, or come from a similar or higher income bracket? Do I honor those who are not like me? Those who come from different ethnicities or backgrounds? Am I willing to extend God’s love to those different from me who sometimes hold different beliefs? Do I honor myself as an image bearer? My family?

My prayer for each of us today: “God, give us eyes to see people as you see them. Amen.”


Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.


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60 thoughts on "Honor The Image Bearers"

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  2. Anna Hornberger says:

    The quote from this passage reminds me of Brandon Heath’s song “Give Me Your Eyes”

    I feel that this devotional is especially relevant now, what with the disturbing ways that people are handling politics. It is a wonderful reminder that regardless of the different views that people have, we are all images of God. If we could see each other the way that He sees us, we would have so much more love to give.

  3. Moneek says:

    This means so much to me today…I will see someone who abused my children just a few months ago. This someone is a child them self and had the same abuse committed to them. I feel incredibly torn in my feelings of grace and forgiveness and anger. I don’t want to just put on a brave face. I want to love from the depth of my spirit that is connected to the Holy Spirit. I want God to open the eyes of my heart. I want to see him as God sees him….forgiven and love.

  4. Andie Walton says:

    I have read several devotionals in SRT. Many have touched me, but not as much as this. It not only leaves me with thoughts of how I view people in the world, people I’ve been abused by. Do I judge people on status? I like the way she addressed it to her son. Something I hope to be able to teach my daughters.

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