by Brandy Webb
Every time I hear the word respect, I hear Aretha Franklin singing her version of the song “Respect.” However, I’m not going to talk about wanting people to respect me. I know everyone wants to be respected, but what I want to talk about is how respectful are we towards others?
There seems to be a lot of disrespect out there in the world, and don’t worry, I’m not saying that I see a lot in the churches. I know there is some between different XYZ COGs, but I do hope that the majority of us have grown to respect each other regardless of what group we go to. With that said, are we setting the example of what respect is? Are our actions showing how to live respectfully even if we don’t agree with the other person? Are we loving our enemies (Matt 5:44)? Are we counting others more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3)?
I am not saying we have to compromise our beliefs and try to “fit in.” No, we do need to stay strong in our faith and try to walk in the footsteps of the Messiah; however, we should make sure we are doing it with respect to others. We can live in faith and keep God’s commandments without looking down on others that do not. We can live a Christian life without trying to force our opinions and ideologies on others, also.
Forcing others to believe what you believe is what the world does. They cry out, “We want respect,” but they do not respect others that have a different opinion than they do. They attack others with their words and sometimes even physically, just because they don’t agree with each other. This is not how a Christian should act. We are to show ourselves “in all respects to be a model of good works, and in [our teachings] show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).
My hope is that we live a life that Peter tells us to do in 1 Peter 2, to do away with all “malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander” (1 Pet 2:1), conducting ourselves “with such honor among the Gentiles that, though they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet 2:12). This requires us to live respectfully, even if we aren’t getting any respect. When we live a life where we treat others the way we want to be treated, even if they aren’t doing the same, we are living a life that follows the Law and the Prophets (Matt 7:12).
I believe that this is another way to show God’s light to the world. It is another way to give the next generation an example of how to live and how to conduct oneself. We can’t complain about the lack of respect that the next generation has if we aren’t showing them how to live respectfully among people that disagree with us. We have to combat what they see in the media by showing them how to live differently.
Live a life that doesn’t scream out “Respect me or else!” Instead, live a life that shows by our actions how our God loves all people and wishes all to turn to Him, repent, and live eternally (a few references: John 3:17, Rom 10:12, Gal 3:28-29, 1 Tim 2:4).