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Respect Others Even if They Haven't Earned It
How to Respect People Who Don't "Deserve" Respect
(c) 2005 by Doug Britton, LMFT (Permission granted to print for personal use)
Show proper respect to everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)
Introduction: It can be hard to respect othersWhen counseling with couples, I often hear one person say something along the lines of, "He (or she) hasn't earned my respect." Parents often say this about their teenage children. Most of us slip into this way of thinking when we talk about politicians.
It's normal to feel this way, yet it isn't the attitude God wants us to have. We can be aware of others' faults, and there may be times when we need to confront sin, yet the Bible tells us that we need to maintain an attitude of respect for everybody.
May these guidelines, adapted from Chapter 5 of the book Encouraging Your Spouse, help you develop a godly, respectful attitude toward those around you.
Show respect because God commands itA good starting point is to respect others because God said to. For example, we read in the Bible that husbands and wives are to respect their spouse:... and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)The same principle applies to other relationships. Peter wrote that we should show respect to everyone and honor the king, although the king in those days was an evil person (1 Peter 2:17).
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect ... (1 Peter 3:7)
Respect others because of their positionYou can respect your spouse, child, parent, boss or others because of their position. For example, after David killed Goliath, he became more popular than King Saul. Saul became jealous and determined to kill David, so David fled.
Saul gathered his army and chased David. On two different occasions, when Saul's army was pursuing David, David had the chance to kill Saul.
Most of us would say that David had every right to kill Saul. After all, Saul was trying to kill him. Yet although he knew that Saul's actions did not deserve respect, David honored Saul as his king and refused to kill him. At his second opportunity to kill Saul, David said, "The LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORDS anointed" (1 Samuel 26:11).
God wants you to respect others because of their position in your life.
Acknowledge that others have weaknessesEveryone is imperfect. Be careful not to let their failures erode your respect for their good qualities.
Look for things that you can respectYou can find something to respect in anybody if you look hard enough.
Respect others as children of GodWhen with Christians, you are with God's children and should honor them accordinglyregardless of how they are acting. (When with non-Christians, respect is still necessary.)
Respect others as made in the image of GodThe Bible says, "For in the image of God has God made man" (Genesis 9:6). Whether or not someone is a Christian, honor him or her as God's creation.
Honor others because God loves themThe Bible says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Do not dishonor someone God loves.
Respect others' desire to be good peopleYour husband, wife, child, boss or employee may make foolish decisions. He or she may be lazy and forgetful. Yet chances are good he or she wants to be a good person and do the right thing. You can respect the desire of someone's heart even if you are disappointed by his or her actions.
Honor others for their potentialSee others as God does. Each of us has an amazing potential. Gideon was a fearful man, living hidden from the enemy, yet the angel of the Lord greeted him by saying, "The Lord is with you, mighty warrior" (Judges 6:12). The angels greeting was not because of anything Gideon had done, but because he knew how God planned to use Gideon.
Personal applicationWho is someone you have had trouble respecting?
Which of these insights will help you treat him or her with more respecteven if he or she has not "earned" your respect?
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Unless otherwise indicated, Bible verses are from the New International Version (1984 edition).