Respect: a good society runs on it. Respect for fellow humans is fundamental to order and peace. Yet the strain of differing worldviews often causes respect to take a back seat in the quest to determine who is right.
We won’t always desire to respect others. There are times when our spouses, friends and coworkers don’t deserve the respect we give—but we’re called to give it anyway. Here are five reasons to respect those around you, even when you don’t feel like doing so.
1. God expects it.
Romans 12:10 says “Outdo one another in showing honor.” God expects us to honor one another with the love and grace He has shown us. But when we forget how much grace we’ve received, we start questioning how respectful we really need to be. We become more concerned with our own rights and privileges than God’s command that we honor the people He’s put in our lives.
We respect others because God has set the example of honor, and because He expects us to do so, too.
2. Respect multiplies.
The beauty of doing hard things for God is the blessing that follows. When we sow respect into the lives around us, those seeds are not fruitless. Respect multiplies!
When you respect someone who doesn’t deserve it, you attribute value to them. Many people are so unaccustomed to being treated with honor that they return the favor. Some of the most hardened people you’ve met may blossom when given undeserving respect—this is the nature of grace! Give grace, give honor and watch God work.
3. Everyone is an image-bearer.
C. S. Lewis pointed out that everyone we interact with is an “immortal soul.” That’s an incredible thought! Everyone we meet is created in the image of God. Even the rudest cashier, the most grumpy coworker or the most difficult parent is an image-bearer. As fellow creations of God, we need to recognize the innate value in others—even when that honor is unrequited.
4. Your respect is your testimony.
At the end of the day, people don’t notice whether you go to church or don’t drink and swear. They remember how you made them feel. If you treat someone with honor and respect—especially when they know they didn’t deserve it—that respect is your testimony! It tells them there is something different about you. You didn’t seek revenge or justice; you gave them respect. You listened. That small step is a seed planted in their heart.
By offering respect, you are building trust—which brings us to our final point.
5. Respect builds trust.
Respect builds bridges. It brings people to a place of trust. By respecting others, you’re showing them that they have value (a value that originates with God). This grace draws them to you, which grants you an opportunity to share the gospel!
Though it is difficult to respect others at times, remember that you’re doing it to honor God—not to please man. When you choose respect, God smiles. He sees, even if no one else does.