Something everyone in the world strives to gain is respect. We want to be respected by friends, by those close to us. We want those we lead to respect us. We want to be treated with respect for any number of reasons, be it position, title, age... I'm not talking about holding someone in prestige or on a pedestal. I'm talking about just giving them consideration and caring about them and their feelings, just to clarify.
But how often do we lack respect for those who deserve it, while desiring they give us respect?
We want our managers and bosses to respect us, but we don't give them respect.
We want our friends to respect us, but don't give them the same courtesy.
We want our family to respect us, but can't do the same for them.
Worst of all, we never respect God.
Oh, we may say we respect God, that we honor and hold Him in reverence. But do we really? Do our lives show any genuine respect for God, for what He has done for us and blessed us with? With our mouths we do service to Him, but I'm afraid our lives are sadly lacking.
When it comes to respecting God, we need to remember that it's hard to respect Him when we aren't grateful for all He has done for us. While we praise Him for blessings when we're in good times, we should remember that His goodness doesn't end when the good times do. We also shouldn't consider Him to be a genie that is only there to grant our desires, and be pushed into a corner when we don't need Him. The truth is, we need him 24/7. There's not a second of your life when you don't need God, and if you believe there is, you've been deceived into believing a lie.
Showing God the respect He deserves also include living a holy and separated lifestyle. Don't expect others to believe you truly love, honor and respect God when you see nothing wrong with tossing His Name around as an exclamation or swear word. Don't expect anyone to believe you when you treat your walk with God as something only to be thought of on Sundays, and forgotten as you live the other six days of the week doing whatever you please. Would you believe you? Do you think God believes you? I doubt it. Again, mouth service that has no genuineness in the heart!
It's no surprise then that we can't show respect to others or they don't show us respect, when we can't even show the smallest amount of respect for the most important One in our lives!
When it comes to your boss, perhaps that difficult manager at work- it's difficult to be respectful towards someone who makes doing your job hard, I know. But did that change how God intends us to act towards those that are in authority above us?
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
God didn't say 'be obedient to those who are good to you, and give those who aren't a hard time.' He didn't say it was okay to be disrespectful to employers we dislike. As Christians, we should strive to be respectful despite it being difficult. Why? Because there is a lost world watching us to see what we will do. If we act like them- if we scoff, mock, scorn, turn up our noses, lash out at and throw childish tantrums towards those who are above us- do you really think that helps your testimony? Does it further the gospel in any way?
But why? Why does it matter? Why should we even try? Verse 7 explains exactly why. We are to work hard and be obedient and respectful, not for the employer's sake, but for Christ. We are to do service 'as to the Lord, and not to men'.
Now, on to the next tier: our friends. Is it even important to respect your friends?
Well, do you want friends? Then, yeah, it is.
We want our friends to respect us, right? To be courteous of our feelings and emotions, of what we do for them and how we want to be treated. Don't you think they want the same? Don't they deserve the same from us that we expect from them?
Would you consider a person who gossips and talks about you behind your back to be respecting you? Would you think a person who mocks you and makes jokes about you without feeling guilt or remorse is respecting you? Would you believe a person who is constantly talking down to you, judging you, criticizing you, saying hurtful things about you, treats you badly or ignores you unless you are convenient to them- would you believe they respect you as a friend? Would you?
Then how can you say you are a friend to someone while treating them with such disrespect?
Our friends deserve at least enough respect that we should care how we make them feel. If your actions are hurting another person, be honest. Admit it. And then stop. Don't keep on doing whatever it is that is causing them grief or pain. If you truly are their friend, you wouldn't have done it to start with.
There's a phrase I heard recently that I really, really like. Okay actually a few... but this one stood out. When it comes to gossip about/from friends, I would hope that you would have enough respect to make them never have reason to consider this to be about you:
"I'm not worried about what the gossips said about me; I'm worried about why they were comfortable telling it to you."
Maybe that's not worded exactly as I saw it, but it's close enough. If you don't disrespect your friends, then you wouldn't tolerate others disrespecting them either.
A respectful friend stands up and defends their friends. They treat them with the same kindness, love and concern they want shown to them. They would put their friends above their own needs and desires, making sure to take all care, regardless of cost, to not offend or hurt them.
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
All these things go for our families, too. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws... Whether they be blood related or not, we should learn to show love and respect at home, which makes it so much easier to show it outside our homes. You should value the love and respect of family enough to ensure it is mutual, and do all you must preserve that precious bond!
Lastly, what about yourself? I'm not encouraging or promoting a self centered lifestyle, by any means. But it is okay to respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to be disrespected.
It's okay to say, 'No, I'm not going to allow this person to hurt me, ridicule me, mock me, or disrespect me.' Don't let someone treat you badly- stand up for yourself. You don't have to return what they are doing to you, but you don't have to take it, either. Find a respectful way to get out or cut them from your life, from whatever or whoever it is. Don't stay and take it, you are worth more than that. Have enough self respect to know when it's okay to say no more, without getting an ego or letting pride take over.
Be humble, kind and respectful but know you don't have to be disrespected either.
But let me remind you, don't mistake worshiping or making someone a idol for respect. Don't respect one person above another, as the Bible warns us about. Be kind and thoughtful, considerate and honest towards everyone because everyone deserves that courtesy.
And above anyone and everyone,
Respect God first and foremost in everything.