What happened to Respect?
That is the question that has been mulling around in my mind since the beginning of the year.
My contemplation on respect is spurred on by the appalling behavior I see in high government officials and campaign ads.
As I ponder that question, I also think of the lack of respect we see across our nation: in schools, interaction with law enforcement, how we feel about our co-workers and bosses, and our interactions in every public place from the line at the grocery store to road rage.
Don’t Be Surprised
First of all, why should I be surprised with disrespectful behavior. God’s Word explains that it is a sign of the times.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 tells us that people will be:
- self-centered, arrogant, boastful, proud, ungrateful, unloving, and unforgiving.
- They will betray their friends by malicious slander.
- They will pretend to have a respect for God, but will want nothing to do with God’s power.
Put Your “Face” in the Only “Book” that Counts
Instead of scrolling through FaceBook looking for more opinion and slander comments, I open God’s Word – the Book that holds the truth.
What does God say about respect?
The Bible is clear: all Christians are to love and respect everyone. That is the baseline.
Respect in the home and Christian community
- We are to outdo each other in love, respect and honor. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10 NLT
- We don’t allow self-promotion but are authentically humble. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 AMP
Respect With Unbelievers
- We live in a way that glorifies God. Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. Colossians 3:17 TPT
- Respect everyone. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17 NASB
- Honor all people. Honor means to give deep respect and admiration. We are called to give honor to everyone simply because they are human and made in the image of God.
- Love the brotherhood. This is agape love and means that you have “set your heart” on your brothers and sisters in Christ and are unwilling to abandon them.
- Fear God. We respect, reverence, and submit to God.
- Honor the king. We regard with respect and fervent prayers those who God has put in civil authority over us.
A Note About Those in Authority
Keep these two quotes in mind when considering the respect you are called to exhibit in your life:
The movement that Jesus Christ unleashed in the world, when he died and rose again, does not depend on qualified human government for its existence or power.John Piper
Christianity has always flourished – whether believers were living under God-fearing governments or not.
Jesus looked at Pilate and said, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.John 18:36 NLT
Respect is kingdom thinking and value and does not necessarily originate from the examples of leaders.
Respect resonates through the heart of a loving God for all people.
It is inevitable that in such an age our kindness will be rejected, but that doesn’t mean we devolve into the meanness and shrillness that surrounds us. In Christ, we have a higher calling and capacity.
One of the things that Christians have to learn in this frame of reference is, even if the whole society becomes uncivil in all discourse, we must not descend to that level, we must not project ourselves as screaming angry people, but as broken people living under the cross, submitting to the lordship of Christ, wanting to think fairly and accurately and faithfully and truly and hopefully and edifyingly in a Christ-honoring, church-building-up sort of way.David Mathis
Instead, we belong to a higher calling and capacity of living.
3 Tips to Prioritize Respect in Your Life
1. Make it a part of your DNA
As a believer you bear the image of God and you are united into the very life of Christ. You have spiritual DNA.
So that you would be the visible display of God’s grace and kindness. (Ephesians 2:5-7)
Your life is on display and is an example to all of what living for/with/in Christ means.
We are respectful people and we demonstrate it with:
- Tender humility
- Quiet patience
- Generous love
- Bonds of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3)
2. Live it in your home
Your (and your family’s) mindsets, actions, and attitudes begin at the kitchen table.
God instructs us to teach our children respect and in turn we also respect our parents. (Ephesians 6:1-4)
Spouses are to care for each other with love, respect, and support. (Ephesians 5:15-33)
3. Show courtesy to all people
Go against the norm of our society and be respectful of all people, in very location, with a sincere heart.
Titus 3:1-2 reminds you:
- to be submissive to rulers and authorities
- to be obedient and ready for every good work
- to speak evil of no one
- to avoid quarreling and instead let your words be gentle
- and show perfect courtesy to all people.
Winning Others to Christ with Respect
As we live with respect for others, we will stand out in society as unusual.
That’s good – no that’s great!
Could it be that your love, respect, and honor for others would be the open door for someone to come to know Christ?
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.2 Timothy 2:24-26 NLT
Disrespect carries out the devil’s purposes.
Respect will carry out God’s purposes.
Let us be known as people of respect, kindness, patience, and gentleness with our words.
Perhaps when they hear respect in our voice, God will change their hearts.