Friday, October 05, 2012

Beautify our World...Respect

Respect is a balm that, when applied to human relationships, brings beauty to our lives.  defines this quality as

esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
 In Romans, God says:

Romans 13:7
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
I Peter 2:17 tells us:
Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Speaking of the church, Hebrews 13:17 says
 Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Have you ever felt disrespected?  Have you been given a task to carry out or people to lead and, yet,  your role wasn't given the respect you needed to carry it out?   That's tough; isn't it?  Have you ever felt disrespected simply as a person, as if you didn't matter?  Oh, how that cuts our hearts.  We all function at our best when we are given respect.

Knowing this, it's important to respect people on at least two levels:  1)  We respect the basic person-hood of others, even of others over whom we might have some authority and 2) We respect the authority of those who are performing some sort of leadership role in our lives.   

Respecting people rightly comes from respecting the Lord.  (I Peter 3   We respect that others are made in his image, even if they, themselves, don't respect that fact.  We respect that he has ordained certain roles, such as government authorities or leaders in the church, to make our world function smoothly.  We respect the fact that while we must make judgements in many situations, we are not anyone's final judge -- God is.   He is the authority to whom we all must give account; in that regard, we are all on equal ground and we respect this fact.

We are able to overcome our fear of respecting those who have authority in our lives because we know that the Lord is ultimately caring for us.  (I Peter Chapter 3).   Fear of being hurt is a biggie for me, and there's where I lean on God.       

It's easy to respect people who are respectable.  It's easy to respect them when they, in turn, respect us.  Sometimes, however, a person to whom we owe respect isn't respectable in his or her own right.  Perhaps, they have poor judgement, or they are unfair.  Perhaps, they are making a mess of the job that they are called to do.  Here's the thing that's hard for us as moderns to grasp: We must show respect even to those with whom we disagree.      

For example,we may or may not like the President, but do we show respect when voicing our opinion?  We should.   The same is true when interacting with a parent, a teacher, a husband, the PTA president, our neighborhood watch, the policeman who's writing us a speeding ticket, etc.  In the U.S. and most European countries, we are fortunate to have a high level of free speech.  If we are to exercise that right responsibly, we must do so with respect.  

In the household, it's especially pleasant when all treat each other with respect.  It's also sobering when we realize how quickly children pick up on our respect or lack of respect for others.  Our impatience turns into their rolled eyes and crossed arms.   It's up to us to teach our children to respect others, and that begins with cultivating the quality of respect in our own hearts. 

Of course, in respecting others, there are times to speak up.   When Peter and others were rebuked for teaching the happy news about Christ and his kingdom, Peter replied, "We must obey God rather than men."

Likewise, we are not to show favoritism:

James tells us that we are to show basic respect to all and not to favor the rich.  

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  James 2:9
We are to treat the poorest and those of least influence among us with honor, just as we treat others.

How can we show respect for each other in the household?  Here are a dozen ways:
1)  Keep the common areas of the house neat; pick up after ourselves; don't borrow without asking; treat other people's private spaces with respect.
2)  Learn how to express feelings, even negative feelings, with respect.  The same thing can be said either with a heart of respect or with a heart of disrespect.  Choose respect.  Also remember that being tired, hungry, or sick is not an excuse to be irritable or disrespectful.     
3)  Listen when others express themselves.  Hear someone out even if we do not come to the same conclusion.  Make sure that children and the elderly know that someone cares enough about them to listen.  Listen to your spouse.  
4)  Use the old magic words:  Please, thank-you, Sir, Ma'am, etc.  Teach children how to show respect to adults and the elderly.  Teach them how to interact with peers.  Teach and use good manners.  Especially, teach children good manners regarding cell phones, texting, and social media.  Courtesy and manners are respect in action.
5) Pray for friends, family, neighbors, countries, political leaders, enemies, etc.  
6)  Care for the family pet with kindness.  Proverbs 12:10
7)  Make everyone who comes into the home feel welcomed.
8)  Respect neighbors' property.
9)  Teach children healthy limits and expect them to obey.  Don't exasperate children by laying overly heavy burdens on them.  On the other hand, don't let them indulge in disobedience or disrespect.   
10)  Help children navigate difficult interactions with peers, teachers, etc.  Help them not to lose confidence in God's love for them even if they face difficult times in school or on the playground.
11)  Be grateful!  Showing gratitude to others helps them feel respected.

And, most of all, honor God as individuals and as a family.

Respect will adorn your home and make your world a little more beautiful!


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