I believe that most everyone would agree that the giving of and showing of respect to your spouse, your children, your friends, to your boss, and co-workers – to those in authority and basically to all people is critical to the human and Christian experience. As Christians we should give and show respect without prejudice. People are to receive and give respect to one another even when they disagree with their opinion, choices, or lifestyles. No one respects an outright evil person. But, putting that aside, people do not have to agree or condone wrong behaviors of people, but they should respect to every human being as someone created by God.
1 Thessalonians 5:12 (NIV) says, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.” The word “respect” in this verse means “to know or have a right perception of another.” Going deeper it means to come to know and understand someone so that you don’t prejudge or mischaracterize who people are and why they do what they do. It implies getting to know and understand the good in those around you. In this verse it especially implies getting to know what those in spiritual authority over you do while appreciating the hard work and pressure it takes to walk as a leader. The verse continues, 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NIV) “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”
I apply this counsel to my marriage. Any good husband realizes that a good wife probably has more to do with leading the home than he does. She often spends more time there and with the children. She is often their primary nurturer. And a good man understands that the role of a wife and mother is immense. A good man will take the time to understand and respect this leadership role his wife plays in the home and be a support to her as he does his best to provide.
The Apostle Paul writes to men in Ephesians. 5:33 (NIV) “…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself…” In applying this command to give respect to my wife, I think a great deal about Renee. Respecting her is knowing her. I have always tried not to take her for granted but see and appreciate the multitude of things she does for me and the family. It seems as though there is endless tasks that she is always working on for the kids and myself. She has chosen to do them out of love for us and she does them with an awesome attitude. Through our seasons of life together, Renee has continually adapted to doing new things for me, the children, the house, and in serving others. She had done so with an incredible attitude. I have taken the time to notice and appreciate what she does which only elevates the great respect I have for her. She hugely appreciates the respect and honor I show her and that only motivates her more.
Taking the time to know people for the good they do takes effort but elevates the respect you feel for them. Showing respect only fuels their fire and motivates them to achieve higher.
This verse continues saying, “…and the wife must respect her husband.” Again in this verse the word respect is used meaning to revere him. I know for many that sounds over the top, but this is counsel from God for wives to have this kind of attitude toward their husband. You might think, “He doesn’t deserve it. He’s lazy or he’s a jerk.” What you don’t realize is that as you ask the Holy Spirit to help you put on this kind of attitude, it will affect your man. Women, you know how to make a man feel honored. You practiced it in winning your husband in the first place.
Husbands and wives should come to know and understand and appreciate the roles and responsibilities each other has and help each other succeed in them. That is the point of this respect.
I know at this point, this is tough for many to listen to. They feel they don’t and can’t respect their spouse for many reasons. The question comes “What came first the chicken or the egg?” What comes first, my spouse earning respect or me giving it?” My answer is give respect first. You should simply give respect because God instructs us to. God knows better than us all! The fact is, if you married each other, you saw things in each other that were real and worthy of respect. If other things became clear to you that were not worthy of respect that diminished the respect that you give, that should not have happened. You have every right to appropriately communicate what is not respectable, but you are also to show and treat each other with that respect that God commands to give. If this is done sincerely and in love with kindness and with encouragement instead of disrespect and fighting, your respect of each other will help each of you step up in the roles God has given you. You hold that power to help each other. The Holy Spirit will help you understand and respect each other despite obvious shortcomings. As you walk this out by faith, your emotions and feelings will always follow right actions from a right heart attitude.
Everywhere I go I treat people who serve me with great respect whether that be the server in a restaurant, a receptionist, a cashier – whoever serves me. I especially do that with my wife and children. It is always appropriate do give kind respect. It has nothing to do with what I think they deserve or how they are presently acting. It is simply the right thing to do and what God wants me to do. But, don’t miss this – when executed consistently, it will influence those that serve and help you in your life. You will help them and overall, you will see that it will come back to bless you!
Too often we think we should give honor and respect only when we feel that someone deserves it. No, that is shallow and would be dependent in our knowing someone well enough and making judgments about what they deserve. Respect comes first. We give kind respect to all. When we do, consistently and always, to all, then we will see God’s power operating through it and coming back to us in our lives.
Romans 12:10 (NLT) “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring (respecting) each other.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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