Respect. What is it? And what determines the giving of it?
According to The Free Dictionary: respect is a feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem: a leader held in the greatest respect. Consideration or appreciation. Due regard for something considered important or authoritative: I.e., respect for the law.
My personal answer to both questions is “me”.
In my opinion and, prayerfully, in my personal life, respect is an attribute I must possess and practice. Respect, like love, is who I am and choose to be. It flows out of love, honor, and loyalty, first to God, then to self and others, and finally to the institutions of life: family, church, job, law, nation, etc.
With God in first place, respect is given out of love, honor, and loyalty to Him. He calls us to love Him out of one’s entire being as first, most vital relationship, and love others as self. Respect is first and foremost an act of love that honors God as Lord.
God tells us to honor our parents. He does not specify honoring parents who are worthy. We honor our parents, whether or not they are good at parenting, because God is our God. Honoring parents, honors Him as God. One way we do that as children of God is by living as honors Him in such a way that it makes our parents look good as parents. Honoring Him expresses honor for those He birthed us to. It can be hard, especially if the relationship is a bad one, but God, who requires it, equips us for it.
Loyalty to God spills over to respect self as the temple He chooses as residence. Loyalty to self chooses to BE as He is, through love, honor, and the loyal practice of all He places in us and calls us to. Desire to BE all He desires for me, and all He is making me to BE, requires me to be loyal to self in requiring the best in me. Out of loyalty to being who I am and desire to be, I give respect, at all times, to all people, including myself, in loving care as His temple.
We are called to respect parents, which includes grandparents, because God says to and we respect Him. We are called to respect governing officials, which includes law enforcement, because they are given charge by God to reward good, and punish evil. Respect honors a parent’s wishes through obedience as a love action toward God first. Respect obeys the laws of the land for the same reason. Respect obeys God above all: His laws and requirements take precedence over all others.
When we ignore a request or order given, or do a half hearted job of it, we disrespect God first, denying His Lordship; then we disrespect self, sullying our reputation as God’s representative; and lastly we disrespect the authority figure we dishonor through disobedience or halfhearted service.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T begins and ends with “me”, who I am, who I want to be. And it reflects my true relationship with God, in whose image I am called to live.
Father, as I think on these things and write these words, I can see areas of needed practice using my respect muscles. Make me better at living this necessary attribute. Empower the attribute of respect to flow from me out of love, honor, and loyalty to You as Lord in all my relationships. In Jesus, amen.