Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Philippians 2:3)
We've had it all wrong. We thought respect was something to be earned. You did enough smart things, lived enough years, and somehow through your behavior achieved the right to be held in esteem, to be given respect.
But that idea goes against the very heart of Scripture.
I started thinking on this the other day after reading a blog by one of my favorite writers, Allison Vesterfelt. Allison has a refreshing look at life and relationships. In this article, she was talking about respect within marriage. She said, "Most of us, if we're willing to be honest with ourselves, are looking for a relationship that is going to make us happy. In fact, I bet most of us don't just desire it. We think we deserve it."
We deserve it. This attitude permeates so much of life anymore. Teens think they deserve the latest gadget. Adults think they deserve to be first in line. "I'll give to you, if you'll give to me," because otherwise you don't deserve it.
Everything around us then becomes about what we can take based on what you will give. Where's the respect in that?
Respect isn't earned. In fact, God said we can never be good enough. If we could, then Jesus wouldn't have needed to come to earth; He wouldn't have had to die, and why bother to raise Him from the dead.
No, respect is given without having any expectation at all. I give you respect because God loves you, because you have a place in my life, and in the process, I exhibit another godly trait - humility.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
I get respect by not asking for respect.
Try that next time you've been slighted. Try praying for that person instead of railing at them. Those were Jesus' instructions. (Mt 5:44)
And don't look at me like that. Because I know what I'm talking about, and I also know how hard it is. But in the end, the rewards are greater. For in my striving for more respect, I'll never find it. It's only when I lay my rights down, that I've any hope of gain.
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.