So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12.
Respect something we always want to receive, but not a gift we always want to give. Respect has many differing aspects. It naturally happens when we have a deep feeling of admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. When we admire someone, it is easy to respect them. But what about those we see as not having gifts or qualities or achievements? Maybe the homeless? Maybe those who serve us? Men? Women? Children? Those who don’t have a high school degree? College? The single? The divorced? The widowed? Those of a different race or political slant than you? The rich? Or those poorer than you? Those in prison? The drug or alcohol addict?
There are so many variables that we make the choice to respect or dishonor. As I was thinking about the need for respect in our society on so many levels, I had to do a heart check in my own heart. Ouch, it wasn’t fun to allow the Holy Spirit to uncover my failings. I have my own struggles, which the Holy Spirit is helping me with.
Recognize the value of every person and continually show love to every believer. Live your lives with great reverence and in holy awe of God. Honor your rulers. I Peter 1:17 TPT It is difficult to recognize the value of every person. Our culture has lost the heart of what it means to respect others. There has been a resurgence in trying to encourage people to be kinder, which I applaud, but I think it must go deeper than that. It is a heart issue. But it is also an action issue. Respect is a verb and a noun. We pass on respect when we give respect. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the Golden Rule is so applicable here. Every one desperately wants to be seen, admired and appreciated. And we have the opportunity every day to respect everyone we interact with. It is our choice to give them this great gift.
Unfortunately, media and social media model disrespect and disdain. Fathers are ridiculed, elected leaders are mocked and we see the nuclear family as an outdated anomaly. Traditional marriage is referred to with contempt. Children treat parents with disdain and openly insult them. We wonder why this is modeled in our culture. Rudeness has become celebrated!
Please be careful what you watch, see and listen to. It does have an effect. Teaching your children to honor their parents as the leaders of the home is out-dated, but it is still biblical. But we must respect our children as we teach them. We must model respect of our spouses, no matter if there is a disagreement. If there is a separation or divorce, we must learn to honor them in their role. This takes maturity and the help of the Holy Spirit. Watch your language and tone as you talk to your children.
I remember as a child, my mother telling me to respect her. I remember always muttering under my breath, if you deserved respect I would give it to you. This was very childish and shows my immaturity. I now know she deserved my respect, simply because of her position. I had to grow up a lot before I really comprehended that concept.
I think it hurts our Father’s heart when we disrespect those He created. We can’t change everyone, but we can change ourselves. We can grow in our ability to give the gift of respect. It is an excellent tool for sharing the gospel. It opens the hardest hearts. Disdain closes a heart like a shut clam. If you harbor disdain toward your co-workers, family members or even church leaders they will feel it. Take the time to cleanse your heart through examination and repentance. Remember, Proverbs 6:16-19 details a list of six things God hates, which includes a haughty eye. A haughty eye is looking down on others condescendingly. We think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, and we look down our nose at our neighbors. This is something our God flat out says He hates. Should we be doing it? I think not.
Father, please help us first learn to respect You and Your ways. Forgive us for holding disdain and disrespect in our hearts toward those you have created. Help us pray for them, trusting you are moving in their lives, as you did in ours. Thank you for convicting us of any areas where we withhold respect through past hurts, disappointments or our own prejudices. Cleanse our hearts today and help us give the gift of respect to everyone. In Jesus Name, Amen.