Respect is a funny thing. It seems like everyone expects it’s given to them, even demand that they deserve respect, but hardly anyone seems to be giving it out. Some people think it’s earned, some people think it is an entitlement by position, and some people think it’s out dated. This word has been so battered and abused; respect is so foreign to our modern American culture. Would we even recognize it right before our eyes?
Definitions of Respect:
1. esteem: a feeling or attitude of admiration and deference toward somebody or something
2. state of being admired: the state of being admired deferentially
3. thoughtfulness: consideration or thoughtfulness (pay due attention; avoid violating something)
4. regards: polite greetings offered to somebody
I think respect has much to do with what we honor and value.
The Bible has this to say about it…
The Message (MSG)
21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
The Message (MSG)
6 1-3 Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”
4 Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
5-8 Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.
9 Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.
The way I see it – when you are in a “position” or “title” of authority – like a parent, a boss, a pastor, a mentor, political leader, etc – your job is to humbly lead recognizing that you are accountable to God. If you demand respect from those “below” you, you may seem to get it, but God is not pleased. When you are in authority or esteem, work to be worthy of respect, not to get it, but to please the God who openly rewards the pure hearted.
When you are in the lower ranks – children, grunts, entry-level employee, group attendee, average citizen – it’s easy to be frustrated with those who are in charge that just really don’t seem worthy of respect.
Romans 13:1 says, “ Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. “
It really doesn’t matter what you think of the person – if you are living to please God you choose to respect the authority and position of the person because you want to please God, and you trust that He openly rewards those who obey Him with pure hearts. And the Bible says that you reap what you sow – someday, you will also be in a position of authority, and when you have sown in humility and proper respect, you will also reap in such.
When you spend your life demanding that others earn your respect before you give it to them and demanding that others respect you because of your position, you’ll often find that respect eludes you. But if you will live in such a way to be worthy of respect and respecting others to please God’s heart, I think you’ll find that this bring a harvest of respect and honor back in your lap.