We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are working hard among you, those who are guiding you in the Lord and confronting you in order to help you change. Treat them with the highest regard and love because of the work they are doing. Live at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13).
It has been many years since I was taught respect for others around me, the actual number is not relevant. However, some time after the lessons had sunk in, I found myself going along with my peers and started believing ‘old’ people were weak and lazy. In effect, I was lacking in respect for those around me.
This condition was brought to my attention, quite forcefully, and not only did the disrespect continue but, also, resentment grew. I began to believe everyone had to earn my respect; none was given freely and willingly. These were the beginnings of hard times for me.
As I grew, the disrespect became more sublimated, I had learned to hide it from most; however, there were some who had enough discernment to notice my subtle disrespect. It was then I was taken aside and lovingly taught the really dire consequences of my disrespect for those who were my elders and my authorities. It didn’t take long before I was back on my original path.
Respect is a concept mentioned frequently in Scripture. Very early in the Bible we are taught how respect should be shown. In Leviticus 19:32, we read – Stand up in the presence of a person with gray hair, show respect for the old; you are to fear your God; I am Adonai. Here we find an interesting connection. When we show respect for those more elderly than are we, we are showing respect for God Himself. For many of us, this connection has no meaning. How can respect for the elderly be interpreted as respect for God? What we may not realize is God’s honouring those who have gained life experience and have learned about Him along the way. As a result, His respect for them has increased. Well, in truth, God loves all of us, regardless of our age. He does not love anyone more. So, to another question, is there a connection between respect and love?
I’m sure you have heard the Beatles’ famous song, ‘Love is All you Need’. I don’t intend to do a thorough analysis of what that line means, however, its meaning to me is quite clear. If love was all we needed, there would be no divorce, there would be no unresolved disputes, there would be harmony for all. However, love without respect is hollow. I may love my wife, and believe me I do, and I must also respect her, not for what she gives to me or does for me, but for who she is. Frankly, it is egotistical to believe respect is due to those who do things for us. Unfortunately, this is not a two-way street. Egotism does not recognize the need to respect others, by virtue of them being alive. So, love is not all we need. We also need respect.
I have been asked if respect is conditional. My response may turn some off, and for that I do not apologize. Respect is a ‘forever thing’; respect never expires. Even when someone attacks us, verbally or physically, there must be a reason. Our respect for that person will motivate us to explore why the attack occurred and, then, to determine if there is some blame for us or for others, to which the original attack occurred. To those who claim that attack must be followed by counter-attack, please note we are not in the school yard, being chased by bullies. We who have reached the age to understand this teaching, are to be mature enough to understand this concept of forever respect.
And with respect comes trust. In my adult years, I have often been accused of trusting too much. I have been told ‘trust must be earned’. This seems very like the mantra of my youth. Doesn’t this sound a little like ‘respect must be earned’? There is an inarguable link between respect and trust. In my opinion, however flawed that may be, trust demands respect and respect encompasses trust. You get the picture, I’m sure.
However, trust will disappear, once it has been broken. Regaining trust requires much love, patience and resolution to change the behaviour that created the distrust. Yes, it takes a long amount of time to regain trust; however, this is one of the consequences of breaking trust.
Oh, yes, now that I am a ‘senior’ in age and deed, I can easily see those in whose eyes I am respected and not. May they all be truly blessed.
CONSIDER: Is it hard for you to respect those around you, without evidence to support that feeling? Do you view all people, elders and youth, in the same fashion? Is it your belief that all respect, even yours, must be earned; it cannot be given?
ACTION: Take stock and consider How God views His children. What separates His respect for us from your respect for others? Start viewing others as making valuable contributions, in even a small way, to the benefit of others.
PRAYER: Abba B’Shamayim, Heavenly Father, help me please to consider others around me in a more respectful manner. Help me find that kernel of faith inside which will enable me to extend respect and trust to others, freely.
B’Shem Adonai Yeshua Mashichainu, in the Name of our Messiah, Lord Jesus, Amen.
May you be fully and richly blessed by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.