Respect. What is it – really? We hear a lot about it. Some among us demand it. Aretha Franklin sang about it, saying “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” Now, I read all the lyrics to Aretha’s song – and, with all respect for her talent and the success she acheived when she was alive, I’m not real confident that she had a very strong grasp of what respect is – at least, as she sang about it in this song written by Otis Redding. It did, however, make for a good song with great rhythm and added a lot to her popularity.
There are several places in the Bible that speak of respect, such as found in Romans, chapter 13, verse 7 which says, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” – So, is respect somethng that we owe to others? It sounds as though, in instructing the people of the early Church in Rome, Paul was telling them how to get along with one another – and the governemnt. Respect for one another is a good foundation for getting along. Some have complained that getting along often looks like “selling out” to one’s own values; even a form of manipulation and not being true to one’s self-respect.
According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, Respect, as it turns out, is both a noun and a verb. In its noun form, it is a relationship or reference to a particular thing ot situation. In its noun form, it is also the act of giving attention or consideration. And finally, as a noun, it is a high or special regard, esteem or deference. As a transitory verb, respect means to consider someone or something worthy of high regard and esteem; to show reference or concern to a person or thing.
In our work with people who are experiencing relationship struggles, respect is one of those qualities that carries a lot of significance and importance if there is to be harmony, peace, and healthy communication. According to Emerson Eggerichs’ work in his book, Love and Respect; The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, he makes some important observations. He states that while men clearly want to be loved, their heart’s desire – and even heartfelt need – is to be respected. And, while woman want to be respected, their deepest need is to be loved. We would concur, as we have observed this in our work
with clients in happy relationships and marital discord.
While this is a perspective that seems to be mostly true, we have also encountered many situations where a woman migh say that she experiences love as she is respected by her husband or significant other. And a man may say that, for him, respect is often experienced in the ways that his wife or loved one demonstrates love for him.
In truth, we are people who have emotional needs and our individual ways of both expressing and receivng love and respect from those significant people God has placed in our lives is unique to each one of us. In God’s Word to us, we are continually informed of what His expectations of us are in the ways we are to relate to one another. The point is that we are, indeed, called to cherish, uplift, care for and about, encourage, assist, invest in, reach out to, forgive, support, love and respect one another. Jesus modeled this behavior for us when He walked amongst us. He has also given us instructions about this throughout His Word to us.
One of the clearest ways that this applies to all relationships – is found in Ephesians 4, where Paul speaks to the people of Ephesus about unity in the Body of Christ. Practical advice, like not being greedy, not acting out of anger, not speaking coursely, exercising self control and being tender and forgiving with others, is discussed in detail. I would call all of these directives ways to show respect – and yes, love – to others.
As we enter the season of celebrating the blessings of the gifts God has given us with Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year, throughout November and beyond, it is our hope that you will take some time to pause and, as you consider how to prepare for this busy and joyful time of year. We pray you will also give some thoughtful reflection to the ways that you may be blessed as you bless those special people God has given you to share life’s journey – and be grateful for your gifts!
Happy Fall – and a blessed Thanksgiving!