They say women want love and men want respect. I’m thinking about respect this morning. I want it but how much do I give it? “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you” (Luke 6:31). I think most of the time, I’m not respectful toward others in the privacy of my mind.
Mostly I’m like an American Idol audition viewer who will gladly laugh at someone making a fool of themselves. In our culture, it is fine to laugh at someone so long as its not directly in their face. Most people will not be rude to someone in person. But if they are not around, its fun to talk about them, laugh at them and to feel better about ourselves thinking that we would never be stupid enough to put ourselves out there to be ridiculed. I think Simon Cowell‘s blunt feedback, which admittedly is probably par-for-the-course for his industry, makes people feel that scathing and nasty equals smart and powerful, especially if delivered with a witty quip.
But if I want respect, I need to give it. How do I become someone who respects others? I picture a martial artist who has endured years of strict training in a long noble tradition who holds his master in high regard. I think I will be a respectful person if I can learn to look for other people’s skills, character and God’s design in their lives. With some people, its easy to spot strength. With others, it will take a greater ability to recognize value. I suppose, as with any skill, becoming adept in respect will take strict training and practice.
Beyond just noticing people’s strong points, respect involves giving honor. Leering at other people’s success, talent and beauty can easily devolve into lust and envy. Respect comes from a place of honoring God choices. I need to live by the motto that I am God-designed and God-assigned. He gave me a certain set of talents, a particular kind of body and placed me in a specific locale and time. I must not only defer to God’s choices for me without complaint, but offer up a grateful heart for it. Out of that place of being happily designed and assigned, I can see other people’s blessings and rejoice with them.
If this is true, respecting others is to respect God. It gives God props when I give a nod of respect to what He has done in someone’s life. I think this what it means for the righteous to run into the strong tower of the name of the Lord (Proverbs 18:10). We are safe if we honor God. To find refuge in the name of the Lord probably means to hide under the banner of God’s name. It’s like fleeing from a repressive regime and applying for asylum in a good country. But if we get asylum in God’s kingdom, we’d better abide by God’s laws and we’d better respect God Himself. Then when enemies comes against me, they will first have to come against God before they can get to me. There’s an amazing joy to find refuge, shielded from harm. Psalm 5 talks about being surrounded by God’s favor as with a shield. It makes me think of a sci-fi force field. It’s cool to think of God’s favor as a personal force shield. But in order for me to stay protected by this favor-shield, I must stay aligned with God’s ways.
All of this respect-pondering makes me realize that being a real man, a true gentleman, means that I am true in the inside and out. I don’t want to just be courteous to someone’s face; I must be esteem them behind their back as well.
God, help me to get respect, that is to get a respectful heart that rejoices with how You bless others and gladly proclaims I am God-designed, God-assigned and God-aligned.