By Arch Hoercher
What has happened to the respect of persons, property, and authority in this country and for that matter, the world? Respect has been replaced by hatred and disrespect. Who would have ever thought that there would be such a level of disrespect and hatred directed towards the leadership of this county, and for that matter the amount leveled against law enforcement and the military? I don’t know about you, but it literally boggles my mind. All the crime and violence perpetrated in this country is directly related to the level of hate and disrespect people have for others.
What does God have to say about respect? The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:17 (NIV), “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” The Greek word translated here as respect literally means to place a great value or high price on something. This passage pretty much covers how we should be treating “everyone” (all people). We are to be placing a high value on all people, not just some but all! No matter their race, back ground, level of education, social status or religious affiliation. This includes our enemies. Why should we place a high value on all people? Because God created every man and woman is His image and each one has an immortal soul that Jesus Christ died for. In Matthew 7:12 (NIV) Jesus said, “In EVERYTHING, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” This is the golden rule, treat others as you would wish to be treated. If you want to be treated with respect, treat others with respect.
We are also to love the family of believers. This love should not be restricted to those we like and spend time with, but every believer no matter their denomination or religious affiliation, race or opinions. Our interactions with fellow believers should reflect this love. If we are unable to love other believers, it affects our witness to the non-believer. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 (NIV), “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you MUST love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus did not say that we SHOULD love one another, but that we MUST love one another. It is our witness to ALL men, believers or not. If we do not respect our fellow believers, how can we be expected to respect others who are not like us?
We are also instructed to “fear God”. The Greek word translated here as “fear” means an awed respect that leads to total obedience. We are to honor the “emperor” but we are to “fear” God. Jesus said in John 14:15 (NIV), “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Our love and respect (fear) of God should lead us into obedience. God is the “author and finisher of our Faith”. It is through His Son, Jesus Christ, that grace has been given to us and as a believer eternal life in His very presence. He deserves our total worship in “fear”.
1 Peter 2:17 lastly mentions that we are to “honor the emperor”. This would have sounded pretty crazy in Peter’s time because the emperor (of Rome) could have ordered the death of all Christians. In Romans 13:1-2 (NIV), “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God. Consequently, the one who resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Our government is an instrument of God’s. Those in authority are God’s instruments for carrying out the purpose of governing. We support and witness to our faith when we give respect and honor to those in authority over us. There is one thing we cannot give to governmental authorities and that is what belongs to God. In Luke 20:25 Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Christians have a duty to be an example before men of our conduct and interactions with individuals and those with authority established by government. Our conduct could have an effect on others and possibly point them towards Jesus Christ and eternal salvation. Every person deserves our respect no matter what their behavior might be. James 3:9-10 (NIV) reads, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be!” If we praise and respect God, we should not curse and disrespect man, because man is made in the image of God.