At one time or another, we have heard the phrase, “well if you respect me then I will respect you” (in fact, I heard it just last weekend). This idea works just fine, until we stumble upon a situation where someone we encounter does not show us the “respect” that we so justly deserve from them.
Let me be blunt. The idea of mutual respect is, in theory, a great one. Yet, in reality, it usually does not even exist. We as humans are so consumed with the idea of self, that we feel entitled for this, that and the other (fill in the blanks with any number of concepts; I’m sure they will fit right in with the point). This rings true with the “mutual respect” concept. We think that the world and all who inhabit it owe some debt of “respect,” and, in return, we respect them back. Ha.
To that, I say dream on.
People will disrespect you.
People will use you.
People will abuse you.
People will act however they please toward you.
Knowing this, you have two options. You can either go all huffing, puffing and red faced, demanding others give you your respect, or you can do just the opposite – you can give your own respect.
Naturally, choosing option one means that we believe when we are disrespected, we are supposed to retaliate with spite and disrespect ourselves. It is only the right thing, to give people what they deserve, right? Wrong. If you are to think in terms of option one, you should know this; no one is deserving. Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This means that none of us are any greater than our neighbor; we are no better than any of our fellow people. To think that we have any ‘God given’ right to show disrespect would be more than ignorant. In fact, Romans 12:17 says “never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” We are called for more than getting even. We are called to show people the way of what is good and right. We are called to love our brothers and sisters who inhabit our planet – to show our Lord’s nature. This cannot be done by only mutual respect; it has to be done always.
This leaves us with option two, which shows an unconditional respect for ALL who we encounter. In choosing this unconditional respect, we gain so much. We have a new (highly improved) view of all that is around us by simply seeing it through His eyes. We no longer have to suffer alone from the selfishness and anger that comes with choosing only mutual respect. There is a love that is made evident to all who come across us. We have learned on this path, this second option, to put others first and to swallow our pride to expand the kingdom of God as it instructs us in 1 Corinthians 10:33, "just as I also please men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved." We have cracked open the unconditional respect that the Lord has shown us and applied it to our own lives, meaning that respect has become a concept that is given to all of mankind, whether they are deserving or not. We have chosen the right path.
With the newly found and never darkening light of Christ pulsating through and around you in this form of unconditional respect, if you choose it, you will be an unstoppable force of love. I cannot promise that you will gain the world’s respect, but I can promise that with what you have gained in choosing His character, and by showing it to every part of that very world, you will have obtained something worth so much more.