Wednesday, October 21, 2009

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

My Bible study got me thinking yesterday about respect.  What is it?  Who defines what it is?  Is it to be earned?  Can it be demanded?  What happens when my version of respect differs from your version of respect?  Who is right?

I posed the question to the cyberworld, because, you know, that's what you do in 2009.  If it's not posted on twitter of facebook, it didn't happen....

A few people weighed in with their thoughts which really weren't all that different from my own thoughts.  It didn't seem to help much or really answer the question I had. But then last night, as I finished a really good book, it hit me like a tidal wave... Respect is not something to be demanded or even earned.  Respect is something that grows in time. 

Of course there is always a certain amount of initial respect everyone deserves just for being human.  A friend commented that it's a part of living in "polite society."  I absolutely agree.  There is also a greater respect due to certain people simply because of the position they hold...the president, your boss, your parents, your husband, etc.

Submitting to another person goes hand in hand with respect.  How many times have you submitting completely and gladly to someone who you truly had no respect for?  Maybe I'm the only one, but I'll tell you what, it is not easy to do! 

I'm reminded of Paul's charge to the Ephesians to "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Eph. 5:21) That word submit means to, well, submit, put yourself under someone else authority, to obey someone else, to give up your control to another, but the verse doesn't say you do that when the other person deserves to be submitted to or because the other person demands that you submit.  No!  You are to submit out of reverence to Christ.  It's not about how you feel or what the other person does.  It's about submitting yourself to Christ first and out of that reverence for Him you find yourself willingly and gladly submitting your control and self to another.

I think respect can work the same way.  We respect because it pleases our Lord.  That's it.  We shouldn't have to earn respect from others or be demanded to respect.  We should willingly and gladly offer our respect to another out of reverence for Christ.  In doing so we honor that person, we honor God, and we truly honor ourselves.  It's then, and only, then that we allow respect to grow in a relationship.  Out of respect will flow trust, friendship, and love.

And isn't that really all any of us wants?  To be in relationship with some one who respects us, trusts us, and loves us unconditionally?  If we want that we have to give that first.  Allow yourself to open up to others by respecting them.  Don't do it because you have to or because they  deserve it.  Do it because of your reverence for Christ.  Life is never about you.  Life has always been and always will be about Him and Him alone. 


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