by Pastor Tim Burt
In Part One, I wrote that one of the diseases consuming our country and human relationships is the utter loss of treating one another with respect! 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (NIV) says, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.” The word “respect” in this verse means to know or have a right perception of another. Going deeper it means to come to know and understand someone so that you don’t prejudge or mischaracterize who people are and why they do what they do. It implies getting to know and understand the good in those around you. In this verse it especially implies getting to know what those in spiritual authority over you do, while appreciating the hard work and pressure it takes to walk as a leader. The verse continues; 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NIV) “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”
Today I want to apply this insight of the need of having and showing sincere mutual respect to one another, in marriage. Any good husband realizes that a good wife probably has more to do with leading the home than he does. She often spends more time there and with the children. She is often their primary nurturer. And a good man understands that the role of a wife and mother is immense. A good man will take the time to understand and respect this leadership role his wife plays in the home and be a support to her as he does his best to provide. (If your roles are reversed, then reverse what was just said.)
The Apostle Paul writes to men in Ephesians 5:33 (NIV) “…each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself…” In applying this command to give respect to my wife, I think a great deal about Renee. Respecting her is knowing her. I have always tried not to take her for granted but see and appreciate the multitude of things she does for me and the family. It seems as though there is endless tasks that she is always working on for the kids and myself. She has chosen to do them out of love for us and she does them with an awesome attitude. Through our seasons of life together, Renee has continually adapted to doing new things for me, the children, the house, and in serving others. She had done so with an incredible attitude. I take the time to notice and appreciate what she does which only elevates the great respect I have for her. She hugely appreciates the respect and honor I show her and that only motivates her more.
This verse continues saying, “…and the wife must respect her husband.” Again in this verse the word respect is used meaning to revere him. I know for many that sounds over the top, but this is counsel from God for wives to have this kind of attitude toward their husband. You might think, He doesn’t deserve it. He’s lazy or he’s a jerk. What you don’t realize is that as you ask the Holy Spirit to help you put on this kind of attitude, it will affect your man. Women, you know how to make a man feel honored. You practiced it in winning your husband in the first place.
Husbands and wives should come to know and understand and appreciate the roles and responsibilities each other has and help each other succeed in them. That is the point of this respect as Philippians 2:3 (NIV) says! “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
I know at this point, this is tough for many to listen to. They feel they don’t and can’t respect their spouse for many reasons. The question comes What came first the chicken or the egg? What comes first, my spouse earning my respect or me giving it in faith that it will help him? My answer is, give respect first. You should simply give respect because God instructs us to. God knows better than us all! The fact is, if you married each other, you saw things in each other that were real and worthy of respect. If other things became clear to you that were not worthy of respect that diminished the respect that you give, those things should not have happened.
You have every right to appropriately communicate what is not respectable, but you are also to show and treat each other with that respect that God commands to give as you communicate your grievances. If this is done sincerely and in love with kindness and with encouragement instead of disrespect and fighting, your respect of each other will help each of you step up in the roles God has given you. You hold the power to help each other. The Holy Spirit will help you understand and respect each other despite obvious shortcomings. As you walk this out by faith, your emotions and feelings will always follow right actions from a right heart attitude.
The giving of mutual respect—In marriage or not—is one of the greatest change agents imaginable! Make respect a stronghold in marriage and in the parental training of your children, and I promise, you, things will miraculously change and improve and you will be raising children who shine brightly in an every increasingly dark society!
It’s been said and taught Respect is something earned and not given! That sounds so good but it is so backwards. God gave it to you when you did not earn it. He said Jesus to die for your sins when you were unworthy. He showed you love and respect because that is what love does! Outside of marriage, know that you influence and help fix society by beginning to fix yourself. Be that person who gives respect, even in the most inflaming circumstances, and you’ll experience the power to take the log out of a fire and bring healing in the midst of difficult issues. Do this again and again and you’ll become a true example of God’s love!
1 Peter 2:17 NLT “Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the King (your leaders currently in power.”)
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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