Respect seems to be missing in our contemporary culture. It is the “dinosaur” of a struggling society. We are confused into thinking that respect is something you demand from others. A definition of respect is “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others” — a lost virtue in our contemporary society.
When our goal as a parent is to raise children that are unique and set apart, that objective doesn’t have them going the way of the crowd. Teaching them something about respect certainly will benefit them throughout life. In most situations one must learn to give respect in order to receive it. We can demand obedience or concurrence based on our position or power, but respect comes from the character of the one who extends it, not from the one who demands it.
Respect is demonstrated through obedience, but respect is much more. Respect wants to honor another through actions or efforts. The biggest contender to respect is “self.” We make ourselves too big in the story and, therefore, we don’t realize the needs and feelings of others.
The Bible commands us to honor and respect our parents, which is taught and nurtured in the home. Leviticus 19:3 (NLT): Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest. I am the LORD your God.
The Bible tells us to respect the aged or elderly, Leviticus 19:32 (NLT): Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the LORD.
The Bible speaks of “gaining” respect, Proverbs 11:16 (NLT): A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth. Gracious means “courteous, kind, and pleasant.”
Respect is a focus on others, Proverbs 13:13 (NLT): People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.
Respect does not focus on the faults and failures of others, Proverbs 19:11 (NLT): Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
Peter sums up the place respect should take in each of our lives:
For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.1 Peter 2:13-17 (NLT)
The ultimate target of our respect is to a Holy and Righteous God. Remember the words of Jesus, Matthew 25:40 (NLT):
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”