Living for Christ as a Youth Day 6: The Importance of Respect
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, ESV)
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17, ESV)
“[Jesus] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7)
We’ve likely heard people say, “Respect your elders,” but how seriously do we take it? Do you show respect to your parents, teachers, professors, and government leaders? Respect isn’t always easy, especially when the reasoning behind rules is, “Because I said so.” But showing respect is so powerful and so God-honoring in our Christian life.
Many people say that respect has to be earned, which would make showing respect much easier. We respect those who make logical rules and those who command respect because of who they are, but what if that’s not the case? Do they still deserve respect, or is it more of a “pick and choose” type of deal? I’m sure you’re already catching on: though it’s not always an easy or natural response, we can’t choose who to respect and who not to; we can’t opt out of listening to what our parents or teachers say.
The teenage years can be hard; sometimes we feel like our parents don’t understand us (and sometimes they honestly might not), and a lot of their rules seem limiting and unfair. Take it from someone on the other side—the rules are for your good, and are mostly there to protect you. I know plenty of teenagers who are looking for their parents to treat them more like their friend, but at this age, parents aren’t meant to be our friends. You won’t always agree with their rules or their consequences, but the Lord asks that we respect them. In Exodus 20, we read, “Honor your father and your mother” (v.12). The verse doesn’t give certain stipulations or guidelines; it doesn’t say to honor them as long as you agree with them.
I’ve been your age too, and I thought I knew what was best for me. It’s very easy to get caught in this mindset and feel like we always know what’s best, but, as Christians, we are to be humble in our thinking. We can’t see the full picture, and often at a younger age we don’t have the life experience to back up our thinking. The life experiences our parents have can help tremendously in our own experiences, even though at the time we may not be willing to admit that.
Another group of people we should show respect to are those in leadership positions in our lives. These may be teachers or professors, bosses, government officials, and so on. In Hebrews 13, we read that we are to obey our leaders and submit to them (v.17). How often do we manifest this? Do we only obey when it’s beneficial or profitable to ourselves? The world goes by a standard of only obeying and respecting those they agree with, but that’s not the standard Christ calls us to. He calls us to a much higher standard, and that’s because by following His will, we are a testimony to the world!
Christ is such an amazing example of treating others with respect. He was and is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and, more than anyone, would have the authority to demand respect. Yet when we read of Jesus, we see traits like humility and meekness shining brightly, as He took “the form of a servant.” What a challenge to my own heart! If the very Son of God took the form of a servant, who do I think I am by not listening to those in leadership positions? May we look to Christ and be humble and respectful in spirit, even when it may not be our natural response.
Respect isn’t about what we think or even feel about the person, but it’s about displaying Christ to others. In the end, would it be better to be “right,” or to be a testimony to others and honor Christ with our actions? We are to honor Christ in our life, and respect is no exception. I pray that we may emulate Christ when we are given the opportunity to display respect to those around us!