Authored by Dan Roselle
Friends play a major role in most people’s lives. It’s natural to want to have friends and it’s also natural to feel sad if you don’t have any friends. Right now, many people in the world find a certain thrill to having a high number of friends on Facebook. You probably know of teens who spend hours staying in touch with their friends, and maybe you’re one of them.
Having friends is something that’s been important since the beginning of time. Did you know that friends and friendship is talked about a lot in the Bible, starting with the book of Genesis? In Exodus 33:11 it says that God talked to Moses as someone talks to a friend. I wonder what kind of conversations those were; I imagine they must have been pretty cool. Do you think they talked about who had a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Or what was happening in the neighborhood?
And then there was Abraham. He was called the friend of God because he had such a close relationship with God. You probably remember the story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on the altar when God sent an angel to stop him.(1) Abraham must have had a pretty close friendship with God in order to follow through on such a tough request; there was obviously a lot of trust in that friendship.
Jesus even called His disciples His friends because of the things He told them.(2) In other words, because He was open and honest with them about personal things, this showed that they were close; they were friends.
In this podcast we’ll tackle just one aspect of friendship, and that’s YOU. So much about how your friendships turn out depends on YOU. How you talk, act, react, listen, have fun, trust, share your feelings—all of this has a major bearing on your friendships.
A very important thing to have in your own life—which will aid and benefit you in all your friendships—is your personal “code of honor.” Now, you could call code of honor other things, like your values, or your standard, or what you stand for, but in this podcast we’ll just call it your code of honor.
A code of honor is usually considered a set of principles that defines the behavior of those in a community—such as the military or a school or a business. It’s how someone in that community or organization is supposed to act.
Here’s something from the U.S. Marines: The character of a Marine (often defined as “what you are in the dark”) is defined by three constant values: honor, courage, and commitment. Each Marine must exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct. Each Marine must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and holding others accountable for theirs.
Notice that it says that a marine must have a personal code of integrity? In fact, it’s important for all individuals, whether or not they’re Marines, to have personal integrity. One way to define integrity could be honesty, or living up to one’s principles.
Many, if not all, universities and academic communities have a code of honor for their students and faculty. One school in New York listed these four points in their code of honor: “Treat yourself and others with care and consideration. Be truthful, honest and fair in your dealings with others. Listen and work together.” And “put forth your best effort in whatever you attempt.”(3) Often students also have to sign or pledge on their honor that they won’t cheat or didn’t cheat on a test or in their studies.
On the Internet you’ll find many forums or sites with open-comment submissions that have a code of honor for those who participate. One site says, “Above all else, respect others and refrain from making personal attacks.”
I’ve read that even gangs and terrorist organizations have some sort of honor code, and those who break it can face death or at least cruel punishment.
Most churches and religious organizations have something like a code of honor or codes of behavior based on the Bible or on their religious writings or traditions. Sometimes these are specific written codes and sometimes they are just understood.
So having a code of honor is pretty common.
When we talk about a code of honor in this podcast, we’re going to be talking about a personal code of honor that you live by, not the code of honor of a group or a community or an organization or a school that you belong to. Specifically it has to do with something that will become a part of your character. You may have already established some basic rules to live by, but as you grow and mature both in age and spirit, you will no doubt keep adding to this personal code.
Georgia Feiste, an author and life coach, writes that:
Your personal code of honor represents your values and the priorities you have in life. Honor gives you strength, and teaches you the importance of keeping your word and living in integrity.
A personal code of honor in behavior, when positive, creates a strong sense of self-esteem, and the ability to live life with purpose and creative inspiration. It provides the foundation with which we create a life we love.
As a Christian you’ll want to have a personal code of honor. That code is what will help you in your friendships and in your relationships of all kinds. You may have already found out that having friends, or rather maintaining friendships, isn’t always that easy. Difficulties come up, such as negative peer pressure, coping with difficult personalities, or enduring or inflicting gossip, which is really a killer in friendships. So, how do you or how will you handle these things? You see, that’s where your “code” comes in.
Your personal code of honor is something that you can live by, something that defines who you are, what you are, how you live, and what you will and won’t do. People will come to know that they can trust you because you keep your word, because you have a high personal standard, because you have a personal code of honor that you live by.
Your code is also based on your personal attitudes of self-respect as well as respect for others. What you will or will not do is based on these two very important aspects of life. If you do not keep your code of honor, basically you are disrespecting yourself or disrespecting others. If you go against something in your code, it loses value, its worth. Of course, no one is perfect, and we will mess up and forget or fail to live up to something that’s important to us. It happens. The important thing is to catch yourself when it happens, and maybe even review your personal code of honor and commit to trying to do better next time.
So where do you start? How do you create your own personal code? The New Testament has a lot of advice on how to live your life with honor and integrity. Jesus gave us many tips for living an honorable life. Here is one person’s code of honor, which is a summary of some principles from the Bible. You might find it helpful to write out something like this for yourself.
I will be honest at all times; I will not lie, cheat, or steal. I will be clean in body, mind, word, thought, and deed.
I will protect, defend, support, and serve my family and friends.
I will be merciful to those in need, and offer help when I am able.
I will greet strangers hospitably and treat them fairly.
I will not return dishonor with dishonor.
I will not allow an insult to honor to pass unchallenged.
When I am wrong, I will promptly admit it, and seek to remedy my error.
I will fulfill every commitment that I make.
I will strive to excel in all that I do in an honorable way.
I will uphold honor to those around me, and never fear to speak openly of honorable matters.
I will take full responsibility for the consequences of my actions.
You might want to listen to that portion of this podcast again to see if you want to make some of these values a part of your personal code of honor. You’ll probably want to adapt some of these things, or maybe you’ll want to make it completely different. That’s the thing about having a personal code of honor—it’s personal. It’s yours. It’s YOU.
I recommend that you take time to think about yourself and what you believe. Write down your thoughts. What’s important to you? What values do you want to live by? How would you like people to define you? Your code should be a clear picture of your personal values.
Once you’ve developed your code of honor, it’ll mean learning to stick with it, even when it’s tough. And that’s when integrity really comes into the picture. In my next podcast we’ll explore that quality more fully so you can discover how to develop integrity, especially in your friendships.
1 Genesis 22:1-14
2 John 15:15
3 Brockport Central School District
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright © 2011 by The Family International