After an in-depth
conversation with Kay Price, one of our alumni and an
intern, I encouraged her to write an article on respect. Of
course, I had to add some application too.
First, what is real respect? Noah Webster's 1828
dictionary defines respect as regard, attention, that
estimation or honor in which men hold the distinguished
worth or substantial good qualities of others. That
deportment or course of action which proceeds from esteem,
regard, or due attention. To treat with deference, good
will, favor. To show or feel honor consideration or esteem
for. To hold in high regard. To avoid intruding upon or
definition would include believing the best of others
and trusting their heart. It involves honoring boundaries.
If the other person doesn't like something don't give it to
them or if they do like something give them that. If my
spouse likes quiet in the morning I give him/her that. If
they don't like a messy vehicle I keep it clean. As I heard
it put once by Gary Smalley, don't stomp on their fences. He
used the analogy of a farmer having put a fence around his
property and his neighbor bull-dozing his fences down just
because he wanted to. Obviously the farmer is not going to
like it being violated like that and neither do we when
others do not honor our boundaries.
In my life, the
biggest hindrance to respecting others was my definition
of respect. I was unaware that I had formed a definition
based on what was modeled by my parents. My own definition
of respect was letting someone run over me or abuse me.
Clearly I was double minded when it came to knowing I needed
to respect others and then doing it. Another hindrance was I
didn't realize I was disobeying God. I had practiced
conditional respect. Which meant that when I felt loved,
then I would respect. (Didn't really happen as God doesn't
necessary to recognize my lack of respect. Respect is to
be unconditional just as love is. God didn't say if you feel
like it, respect your husband or if he loves you like you
want him to, respect him or if he lines up with your
expectations, then respect him. He said wives respect your
own husband. This does not mean put it on and try to do
respect in your strength. It must involve a heart change.
Respect others as you would have them to respect you and
respect them as Christ respects the church. I had to learn
to appreciate God's choices for me, my authority figures and
"filters" may color our perceptions of the authority
figures God has placed over us or of God Himself. For
instance, if our parents abused us, we may have a filter
called bitter root expectations i.e. that others will abuse
us too. If they withdraw from our bitterness, we may see it
as a confirmation that they have an attitude. We may sow
verbal abuse and then not realize that we are reaping what
we sowed. We may abuse the kindness of others and then
demand more, as if we are entitled. We may abuse the
finances God has entrusted to us and fail to tithe and then
expect Jesus to rescue us from the debt. While God has
promised to deliver us from all our distresses (Psalm 107)
He would rather that we appreciate and respect His direction
and Word. He may allow us to reap what we sow in order to
conform us to His image.
Ps 107:6, 13, 19, 28
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress. NIV
I find Holy
Spirit most faithful to show us what hinders or what
respect looks like practically applied. All we need do is
ask. Do you really want to enjoy your spouse and REALLY
appreciate him or her? How about experiencing relationships
as they were designed by God? SOS = Sow or Speak Respect. If
you have invited Jesus to be Lord of your life, you can
choose to release Jesus to respect others through you.