Honor and Respect

One of my ministry principles is to give as much honor and respect as possible to everyone. Some people happen to deserve it. Others, because they are given honor and respect, will come to deserve it.

This honor and respect is rooted in love, not mere tolerance. Mere tolerance might dictate a passive benign neglect. I won’t bother you if you won’t bother me, or, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Love says, this person (whichever person happens to be at hand), is made by God and is in God’s image. God made this person to be God’s image in creation. Even, more, this is a person Jesus died to save and empower for a mighty, purposeful life. So even if this person is not now acting as one to whom honor and respect seem natural, consider the prospects!

Some people reject, abuse, or otherwise spurn honor and respect. Or perhaps they take your desire to honor and respect them as a way to manipulate them. Because my honor and respect for people is rooted in love, and my love, feeble as it is, is rooted in God’s love (demonstrated in Christ, empowered by the Spirit), my honor and respect for God comes before and thus relativizes my exercise of honor and respect even while God fills my own deepest needs for honor and respect.

Sometimes my honor and respect for one person requires me to tone down my respect for another. Or, from a different perspective, when someone I honor and respect is being dishonored and disrespected, my honor and respect for the person doing the dishonoring and disrespecting might well not be perceived as honor and respect by that person. I take holding people accountable for their actions to be a form of honor and respect. The alternative, treating them as morally unformed little children, helpless to regulate their own behavior, seems more insulting than respectful.

I can honor and respect others, even the dishonorable and the disrespectful, because I am accountable primarily to God. God loves sinners and enemies. God respects them (us!) enough to hold them (us!) accountable for their (our) sin.

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