RESPECT…we all want it and according to Aretha Franklin it is “what you want… what you need,” and if you do not get the respect you want or need, “you might walk in and find out I’m gone.” Aretha understood how important a “little respect” to any relationship is and when we do not get it, we have a hard time staying in the relationship no matter who the other person is….whether a husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, acquaintance, or a business relationship. According to Webster (1984) respect means “to feel or show deferential regard for: esteem. Willingness to show consideration or appreciation, polite expressions of consideration or deference.” This definition does not contain any aspect of whether the other person is deserving of the respect, but rather what is involved in giving someone else respect.
The first verse I taught our girls when they were young was Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” As I taught them this verse I would ask them questions about the verse to be sure they understood. I would ask them, “who are the children?” They always knew who they were…Danielle, Denise, ad Delaney. We had to learn what the word obey meant. It certainly comes in handy around the house when we teach our children Scripture and they can put it into practice. Then I would ask them “who are the parents?” They knew the answer to this one pretty easily too…you and Dad. We also had to learn the word honor. According to Danna honor means, “To do what you are told with a happy heart and a smile on your face.” Obey was the “doing what you are told” part of the definition, but as a young child showing your parents honor was “doing it with a happy heart and a smile on your face.”
In other words honor is respect. The thing about this verse that I like to point out is that we are to honor or respect our parents even when they do not deserve it. I tell my girls that even when I have dementia and they have to take care of me, they still have to honor me for the simple fact that I am their mom. This is a hard to pill to swallow for some as they have had a difficult relationship with their parents. They have abused them, not taken care of them, or been selfish and not acted towards their children as a parent should act. I talked with a man who was full of regret over how his alcoholism ruined his relationship with his children. Even though he had been dry for many years, his children could not get past the hurt he had caused them when they were young. Yet, these relationships could be healed if Ephesians 6:2 became real in their lives and they honored or respected their father in spite of the pain that had been caused.
Respect for someone does not involve being a doormat, but rather how we treat them. Even in the midst of a discussion with another who may not deserve our respect, when we show them respect the tone of the conversation can change. The men Jesus chose to be His disciples were part of the lowest class of society. They did not deserve respect and as we read about their lives with Jesus and how they responded there is even more reason to question His choice. Yet, Jesus respected them. He was patient with them. He taught them. Through His investment in them, because of His respect for them; the world was transformed by the Gospel.
So what are we as Christians called to do? Show a little respect. If it is what you want and if it is what you need, then it is safe to assume that it is what someone else wants and needs also.