I hear the phrase: “Respect is earned ” so much, and especially through my years in prison. As a matter of fact, I held on to this false worldly belief most of my own life, but as with many other things, this was another huge paradigm shift for me when I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Many times, when speaking at various youth events, whether it’s in schools or churches, students are very disrespectful. Just last month while waiting to speak to a youth group, I sat in on their gathering beforehand. As the youth leader was trying to give announcements and have everyone share a blessing during that week; during all of this the students were talking, laughing, texting on their phones and just generally being disrespectful, not just to the leader, but to each other.

When it came time for me to speak we all mov ed to the sanctuary and I started off by asking the students if they knew what respect was? Out of almost 30 students, not one student knew the meaning of respect! The one student that mumbled a response, said: “Being obedient?” I wasn't really amazed because many people, and especially our youth, are far from respectful, so why would they know what it means? I then told the students that respect was basically paying attention to people when they talk or giving attention or regard to others, esteeming others. It ’ s treating others as you wish to be treated. If you don’t appreciate it when others are talking while you are talking, or ignoring you while you are talking, then don’t do it to others. I commented on how much disrespect I saw going on in the gathering beforehand, not just to the youth leader, but to their peers as they were sharing.

I then asked if they believe respect was to be earned? Most all agreed. (They agreed to respect being earned, as do most people, yet they didn't  even know what respect was)!  I told them that, like many of the world's ways, that was not a standard that Christ followers have. I shared that I respected every individual in that room, and they didn’t have to earn it, they received it automatically. But once someone disrespected me, then they might have to earn the respect back depending on how they disrespected me. I said that if anyone disrespected me that night and was talking while I was speaking, or on their phones … I would call them out on it! There are times when I do call a student or students out when I am speaking and they are talking to someone else or otherwise being disrespectful because I won’t tolerate disrespect. I typically don’t have to; most students are attentive during my talks.

The point is, people shouldn’t have to “earn” respect! In doing so you are putting yourself above others in thinking someone has to earn the privilege of you treating them the way they should automatically deserve to be treated anyway.

Whether you believe it or not, and are a Christ follower or not, God created everyone in His image. This includes individuals who are not Christ followers. We show everyone proper respect and honor because their souls are of more value than all the wealth in the world. The Apostle Peter teaches on respect in 1 Peter 2:17 – “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

This teaches us that respect encompasses four areas in our life: ALL men, other Christians, God, and governmental authorities. Many people in our society don’t have respect for any of those things, they don’t even respect their own wives, children, family members … let alone all men and authority. Totally the opposite! The Bible’s interpretation of Respect is the Greek word: ‘timesate’, which means ‘honor or value.’ It literally means to place a great value or high price on something. In this day and age many only place high-value on our personal rights and the equality of man. As a matter of fact, it’s totally the opposite. Jesus always raised the bar of expectation on many things, and this subject was one of them: Romans 12:10 – “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ”Here’s a hard one: Philippians 2:3 - 4 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others MORE significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Christians are to be a people of order and discipline, of righteousness and justice. We are to be dynamic examples of love and peace so that others may be won to Christ and be saved for eternity (Matthew 5:14 – 16). Part of living as examples of Christ before the watching world is showing respect to others. We are slowly losing Christian values in our society, and this is one of them, and we can see how this is negatively impacting our society as a whole. What would it look like if we once again went back to showing respect and honor to others rather than having the mindset that it’s all about us and people have to “earn” the right to be treated rightly!

God bless you all.

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