I posed the question recently on my FB page asking if people thought respect was to be earned or demanded. As I’m sure you can guess I got varying answers.
How is respect defined? Websters.com defines respect as “high or special regard; esteem”
Esteem is defined as “worth, value”
Respectable is defined as “worthy of respect”
So many times I hear complaints about our troubled youth and their blatant lack of respect. Although I agree with this statement, I don’t feel it adequately explains the problem. It raises too many questions in my mind to leave it at that. For instance, should parents expect to be respected even when they are not respectable? What if that parent is verbally or physically abusive? We are told to respect our elders. Does that only mean old people, or anyone that is older than you? What if that “older” person is a murderer? Do children deserve respect as well as adults? We are to respect our leaders. Does that mean Hitler deserves respect? Wives are told to respect their husbands. What if a man abuses his wife in a drunken stupor every weekend? All of these questions leave me thinking that respect is not something that you can demand from another person, ”because I said so”.
A person can find numerous verses in the bible to back up a belief that respect is expected, but I can find way more verses where God commands us to be a person WORTHY of respect.
“Husbands are to be respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land” Prov 31:23. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” Col 3:19, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Eph 5:25. Reversely, husbands are also to “respect their wives” 1 Pet 3:7 and “wives are to be worthy of respect” 1Tim 3:11 “Her husband has full confidence in her” Prov 31:11 Clearly, this is a two-way respect relationship and it doesn’t all fall on the wifey J
Parents are to discipline in a way that cause their children to respect them-Heb 12:9 and “manage their family in a manner worthy of respect” 1 Tim 3:4 “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Col 3:21
Elders- “older men are to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” Titus 2:2 and are not to “look down you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12
Leaders –“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Heb 13:7 church leaders are to be worthy of respect 1 Tim 3:8
Christians are to “win the respect of outsiders” 1 Thess 4:12 and share Christ with “gentleness and respect” Heb 12:9
This is not to say that I think we are off the hook as far as treating a person in a respectable way and honoring the value that God has placed on each life if they don’t treat us the way we like. We should respect our parents, children, leaders, elders, and spouses regardless of their sin. I think too often though we point the finger in the wrong direction when we should be asking ourselves, “am I acting in a way that is respectable?”.
We’ve all heard it said that “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree”. Let’s all work a little harder on being a good example and less on blaming someone else for our problems.