Respect, No Matter What

One of the basic conditions for communicating with others is respect. When we honor who people are as human beings and what they can contribute, then we open to the door to communication.

Respect is easy as long as the temperature is low. When the temperature rises, insults come, and disrespect rears its ugly head, then it becomes extremely difficult to continue to show respect.

And that’s precisely what Jesus did. “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:23).

And that’s precisely what Jesus has called us to do. “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:20).

Yet as soon as we hear negative comments, experience distancing from people, or find out that others are talking behind our back, we forget: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Why in the world, though, would we want to maintain respect when others show disrespect?

Here are a five reasons:

  1. You can win people. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Pet. 3:1). This is true not only for wives but for everyone. You can win people.
  2. You can be blessed. When we return insult for insult, we harm ourselves. When we keep ourselves from bitterness and anger, we keep ourselves. To do what’s right, even when it’s hard, is a great blessing and its own reward.
  3. You can trust God. Jesus did not return insult for insult when people attacked Him. However, that did not mean that He saw these things as fine or not wrong. “Instead, Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” God frees us from the burden of righting all wrongs by ensuring us that He will make all things right.
  4. You can be like Christ. Whenever Peter thought about Christ, he could remember His sufferings. Peter also saw him rise from the dead and ascend to heaven. Following Christ means experiencing the suffering Christ and afterwards sharing in His glory.
  5. You are the beloved. Peter begins his exhortation with the word, “beloved” or “friends” (1 Pet. 2:11). When we suffer, we should remember that we are the “beloved,” friends of Peter and friends of God. We are chosen by the Father, sprinkled with the blood of the Son (for forgiveness and renewal), and transformed by the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2). We are called and empowered to live a life that rises above the tit for tat that dominates human life.

When others cause us to suffer, it’s so easy just to see us and them. But there are bigger issues at play. Our own conscience is at stake. Winning others is at stake. Glorifying God is at stake. Advancing God’s kingdom is at stake. The well-being of our soul is at stake. Showing the pattern of Christ to the world is at stake. If we can keep these larger issues in mind, we can maintain respect, even when we suffer. We will all have to suffer, the question is whether or not we will suffer well.


2 Replies to “Respect, No Matter What”

Leave a Reply