by Pastor Tim Burt
I’ve written about respect lately but have more to say on the subject! The Bible has taught me to give love, respect, and honor where it’s due. I certainly didn’t always do that, but its been ever increasingly shaped within my heart since I’ve become a Christian. God’s Word has much to say about the fear of the Lord and respecting authority. That doesn’t mean God wants us to fear Him like we would fear someone or something that was evil or would cause harm. No it means to have a reverence and awe of the Lord for who He is. It is only in this attitude that God can takes His rightful place on the throne of your heart. When we reverentially fear the Lord, He will never be a casual or profane subject of our conversation. He’ll be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—not the big guy in the sky.
Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth reverentially fear the LORD; let all the people of the world stand in awe of Him.” It’s no wonder people don’t put much trust in God. They have minimized who He is in their heart. In doing so, they unknowingly hinder their own ability to have great faith in Him because they haven’t magnified or been in awe of His greatness, ability and love.
The Lord wants us to revere Him. He also wants us to give honor and respect wherever it is due. Romans 13:7-8 NIV says, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
God considers giving honor and respect a debt that is not paid when it is not given. Is that what you see mirrored in today’s society? To me it seems like showing respect to everyone is rare.
God’s Word foretells that as we approach the second coming of Jesus Christ, respect will be something that will be in short supply. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 NIV reveals, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–” All that is listed here is a product of having no respect or honor for any position of authority. It is a problem that undermines unity, law and order, and the blessing that God desires for society and our individual lives.
We see this problem in its grass-roots in Proverbs 29:21 NIV. “If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.” I don’t know if you can instantly see the problem painted in this verse, but it’s bad. The picture is painting a story. To really understand this, understand the position or definition of a servant. A servant is a person who is privately or publicly employed to perform domestic services who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: your obedient servant. A person in authority is one who has been given the power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge. In the above scripture, the picture that is painted is a person in authority who has been indulging or pampering to his servant’s every whim and request for a long time. At some point, the servant began to expect this kindness. He began to take it for granted while losing respect yet expecting more and more of the same. His servant began to see himself as entitled. He no longer honored his master. He became a selfish and an unappreciative nightmare to his master! And why did this happen at all? Because neither understood an appropriateness for authority and the difference between one in authority and one serving. That’s not to say it can’t be a great relationship. It can! Read the book of Nehemiah and you’ll see this relationship operate perfectly between Nehemiah and the King.
There are times when most of us walk in some position of authority and then there are times when we all walk as a servant under someone’s authority. We are all ultimately under God’s authority. Because of this, we are to give honor, respect, and even reverence when and where it is due. We are to receive that same respect when appropriate.
If we let our children grow up without showing respect and honor to whom it is due, then they will in all likelihood, grow up as someone who will not respect others, or have the respect of others. They will also not respect property, law, or other people’s rights. They will want respect but seldom give it. God’s Word says this kind of attitude will lead to a life of grief. Of course we are always to be understanding and considerate with our children, but when they don’t respond rightly, we are to remember that the parent is in authority and that the child is the one under authority—similar to the servant in needing to respect and obey. Pamper and put up with disrespect and you will later live to regret it.
The same is true with an employer. People want their boss to be caring, kind, and respectful in his or her management style. When they are, it is easy for an employee to take their kindness for granted and begin to take advantage. False expectations, dishonor, talking behind the boss’ back, feelings of entitlement, and ultimately disrespect for instruction and command can follow. That person becomes a growing problem. That person has forgotten that someone gave them a job that included income. That pampered employee will become someone the boss regrets hiring.
I am not saying this to encourage a boss to become cold or a dictator. Be a godly boss but, don’t let an employee’s inappropriate behavior change your appropriate behavior. Simply enforce what is right and give them time to respect authority or let them go.
For the employee or person that is showing disrespect or causing grief to anyone that is in authority, recognize that you’ve become the pampered servant that is heading for trouble. Fix yourself before trouble comes upon you. Be sure to reverence God and thank Him for teaching you this valuable lesson, and show respect to those you serve. It will not only save your life in more ways than you know, but it will create favor from God leading to blessing!
Start each day by praising God for who He is and for His love for you. And then, whether in society, the workplace, or in the home, give each person the respect, honor, and kindness due them. It will help keep the channels of blessing open. It will also keep your heart pliable and teachable which are characteristics of a very promotable quality—humility.
1 Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, reverence God, honor the king.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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