Respect. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, because I’ve been attempting to get it across to my school students that if they respect each other, there is little need for other rules. Today I went a little deeper and looked at what the Bible has to say about this subject. Here’s some of what I found and my current thoughts on the subject.
First let’s define respect. According to the dictionary, it means “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others; politeness, courtesy, civility, deference; honor, esteem, feel or show honour or esteem for, care, consideration, to care for, show consideration for.” Basically, be nice to others even if they aren’t exactly like you in every area. Is that so hard?
Now, the Bible doesn’t say much about “respect” but it does talk a lot about honour. Honor according to the dictionary, means “nobleness of mind, a nice sense of what is right or proper; great respect, high regard; respect highly, think highly of; show respect to; be an honor too.” In this blog post, I am using the Bible word honour in place of the more familiar word respect. I believe they have a lot of the same connotations.
According to the Bible dictionary, honour means “of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold; of the honour which belongs or is shown to one, of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds.” Think about this for a bit, “the price paid or received for a person bought.” What was the price paid for us? Jesus died on the cross for every single one of us!! How valuable does that make us? And if we view every other person as having that same value how could we do anything else but show them respect?
Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The Golden Rule. This is a basic rule of human rights and expectations. Everyone wishes to be treated with respect and kindness. If everyone treated everyone around them as they themselves wish to be treated, our world would be a much better place.
Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” This is how we as Christians should act. Outdo in this verse carries the idea of being a leader. It means “to go before and show the way; to go before as a leader.” We should attempt to be the leaders in showing value to others, everyone. Every human being has the same value as the next one, from the worst criminal in prison to the most influential king. All humans were paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That price gives them value. When they accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, they become sons of God. This puts them in an honourable position, which is just another reason to show them honour.
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Titus 2:7 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show, integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Wow! That is a high standard! In ALL respects we are too be a model of good conduct. Part of this good conduct is to show honour. If you always show honour and respect, who could condemn you for that?
I Peter 2:17 “Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.” Honour in this verse carries the additional meaning of “to fix the value of something belonging to one’s self.” If something belongs to you, you are more likely to treat it with respect. Christians are a family, your family. Treat them with respect due to family members!
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” Love is part of honour as well. We cannot honor others if we have no love for them. Like the song says “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I think sometimes we don’t do such a good job at demonstrating our love for each other.
Romans 13:10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.”
I Thessalonians 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” Honor those in positions with authority.
I Corinthians 12:24b-26 “But God has composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all members rejoice together.” I believe these verses hold some very valuable keys for us as we learn to always honor others. We might be tempted to look down on someone because they are different from us or less honorable in our estimation. But who are we to say who is less? All humans are created equal; therefore all equally worthy of our honor and respect.
This is something we’ve been working on in my classroom. Currently, if they are all respectful and do not earn any consequences for a whole week as a class, they will all be honored. If, however, one person is disrespectful, the whole class will suffer with them by not being able to attain to the honor in store for them. This way they learn that their disrespect does not only negatively affect them but it also affects the whole team. This builds an atmosphere of positive peer pressure to do the right thing.
Respect others and they will be more likely to respect you. Annoyed with rules and guidelines that seem unnecessary? If everyone walked in respect to each other, most rules and guidelines would become moot points. If a first grader can understand and know what is respectful and what isn’t, so can you as an adult.
When you are respectful of others opinions and beliefs, they are more willing to respect yours. You do not have to agree with someone to be respectful to them. Example: I am a Mennonite who tends to the more liberal side of the spectrum, but most of the students in my school are Amish. Their parents are Amish. We dress differently and probably believe differently on some things, but that does not stop us from working together just fine. We have mutual respect for each other. And our outward appearances have never been an issue. We worship the same Jesus and side by side we work together towards the same goal of advancing the kingdom of God. Respect works! (And baffles those who receive it from the unexpected places like someone completely different from them.)
Go out and be respectful!!
*All verses taken from ESV Bible.