Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.1 Peter 2:17 (NLT)
In this day and age, respect seems to have gone down for a very long nap. While it slumbers away, it seems that people are wide awake, attacking one another (both physically and with their words) every chance they get. Whether it is saying something untrue or mean behind someone’s back, calling other people names or tearing down their character on TV, our society loves it when people behave disrespectfully.
The sad reality is that this behavior isn’t done solely by those who profess no faith, or a different faith, than our own. Nope. Disrespectful behavior can be found in Christian churches and institutions around the globe. I’m sad to say, it even happens in the church that I pastor. Christians are just as capable as anyone else to behave in disrespectful fashion.
Such behavior only serves one purpose: to tear others down. No wonder Christianity has slowly been becoming a faith known by outsiders for what they stand against, but not what they are for. By our behavior, we are actually tearing down God’s church.
How then do we reconcile such behavior with this amazing verse penned by one of Jesus’s closest disciples? “Respect everyone.” It’s kind of hard to make excuses, or to say that a particular group doesn’t apply because they somehow are exempt from the “everyone” clause of this biblical truth. When Peter wrote “everyone,” He meant all of humanity.
Here’s the worst of it. When we disrespect someone else, we also disrespect our God. The Scriptures tell us that we are His children. The “we” I use is not just Christians. Instead, it is a global “we.” Every person on this planet is a child of God. Therefore, when we malign their character, we are disrespecting God’s own child, whom He dearly loves. In other words, we are sinning against God when we disrespect others, no matter who they are. Today, I offer you a simple, horrible exercise. Repent. Turn away from disrespectful behavior. Go to those you’ve disrespected and ask for forgiveness. Heal the wounds that have been created between you, them, and our Creator. Demonstrate love. Demonstrate the desire and willingness to change. Demonstrate the character of God.