R E S P E C T.
Those of my generation immediately think of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, belting out these letters which became her signature song. It’s about a confident, young woman demanding respect from her man.
In her 1998 autobiography, Franklin said the lyrics “speak to anyone who feels unappreciated.”
A lack of respect has become an issue in all areas of life and in every relationship. It’s seen and felt in families, churches, communities, schools, social settings, and political positions.
Having a heart for God involves showing proper respect for both God and other people.
David, the subject of our VBS in Wellandport this week, was not only a hero of Faith, a great warrior, a giant killer, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, but also a man who accorded respect to others.
In our lesson, we saw how David respected Abigail, the wife of Nabal, the fool who disrespected him. Multiple times he demonstrated respect for King Saul, although he envied David and tried to kill him. Because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed,” David would not retaliate or exact revenge for his malicious conduct. And of course, David respected God and His Word.
Respect involves honor, esteem, and deference to others. It values others. Treats them with dignity. And is gracious.
The Bible has a good bit to say about the spirit of respect we should have toward other people in various relationships.
(1) Brethren in God’s church should treat one another with respect. “Love one another warmly as Christian brothers, and be eager to show respect for one another.”(Rom. 12:10)
(2) Those in positions of governmental authority ought to be accorded respect. “Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” (Rom 13:7)
(3) Shepherds in God’s church deserve our respect. “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” (1 Thess 5:12-13)
(4) Wives are commanded to express respect for the headship of their husbands. “So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (Eph 5:33)
(5) Husbands are admonished to treat their wives with understanding, consideration, and respect. “In the same way, you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are the weaker sex. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers.” (1 Pet. 3:7)
(6) Children must be taught to honor and respect the authority of their parents. “Respect your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise added: “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.” (Eph. 6:2-3)
(7) Even servants were to demonstrate respect for their masters. ‘Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle but also to those who are unreasonable.” (1 Pet 2:18)
These passages remind us that people are important to God. And they should be important to us. C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote, “We meet no ordinary people in our lives.” People have worth. Value. Dignity. They are created in God’s image and after His likeness.
The apostle Peter commands, “Respect all people” (1 Pet 2:7). In other words, show regard to others. Express appreciation. Convey kindness. No matter the social or economic status one has, everyone deserves our deference as a fellow human being with an eternal soul.
In a coarse, crass culture of vanishing respect, let’s make regard for others a priority. Being respectful is something we can do each day to shine our Christian light and reflect the heart of God.
Laurence Sterne succinctly expressed it accurately. “Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman