“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Titus 3:1-2, English Standard Version)
I don’t think it’s my imagination that respect for one another has declined within our society. We have forgotten how to treat others with common courtesy. And we can be quite vocal in our rudeness. This lack of respect can be seen in family life, the workplace, toward leadership, and across social levels. The effects of this disrespect can be seen in damaged relationships, increased anger and stress, and disregard for the well-being of others.
When I respect you, it means I accept you for who you are. I value you as a person. We may have different intellectual abilities, different economic levels, different religions, politics, and cultures. Just because we have differences does not mean I can belittle you or criticize you. Even if I disagree with your opinions, I can respect your right to have those opinions. I hope you will show the same courtesy to me. After all, the same Creator made us both in His image.
A Modern Story
A young man I knew seemed well on his way to a successful ministry. Then for some unknown reason his life fell apart. Later, a similar thing happened to his older brother. Both showed great potential; both failed God. But why? The man who pastored them during their youth explained the root problem. It seems whenever it became necessary for him to give pastoral counsel, their mother would dispute his correction. She did not accept the pastor’s role as their spiritual leader and did not teach her sons to respect him either. This lack of respect helped shape the character of both men, but not in a positive way.
An Ancient Story
David and King Saul had a complex, difficult relationship for many years. Saul’s mental instability as well as his spiritual problems caused him to seek David’s life. His jealousy and hatred disrupted David’s life for years and kept him on the run. The story recorded in I Samuel 26 gives us a glimpse of David’s character. In this instance, Saul was the vulnerable one, and David’s men could easily have killed him. But David refused to allow this. “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless’” (verse 9).
What David demonstrated here, and at other times as well, was respect. Respect for the man God had once anointed. Respect for a man who once enjoyed God’s favor. And importantly, respect for God’s plan and timing. Later as king, David showed respect for Saul’s crippled grandson. Despite the hardships he endured, David did not allow those difficult times to destroy his respect.
Is Respect Important?
Respect is the glue that holds relationships together. We can go even further and say it holds society together. Respect is affirming, showing others they are important to us even if we have our differences. Respect nurtures trust. We feel safe when we are respected and feel we can express our opinion without being ridiculed. Respect says I value you and recognize your worth.
We all need to be respected and give respect to others.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV)
Prayer: Lord, help me to show respect toward those I interact with each day, regardless of how they might treat me in return. You created us all in Your image and love us all the same. You gave Your life for us. How can I value others any less than the value You placed upon them?