“Show proper respect to everyone” (I Peter 2:17)

Respect is not that difficult.  It’s not rocket science or brain surgery.  Respect is simply thoughtfulness and consideration of others.  Aretha Franklin even spelled it out for us for Pete’s sake!  America has lost its’ ability to respect one another, and if you are like me that makes you very sad.  There is little respect for human life: for the unborn, the elderly, or the disabled.  We refuse to give respect to one another at a four-way stop.  We interrupt one another and talk over one another.  If we are honest, most of the time we don’t really listen to one another to begin with.  We get angry with someone if they are driving too slow on the highway.  Our daily news is filled with murders of innocent people.  We accuse one another of being on the “wrong side of history.”  Who is to say which is the right and which is the wrong side of history anyway?  Dear God, what has happened to us!!!

America has lost respect for one another, and I believe it is a spiritual problem.  The Old Testament commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” (Leviticus 19:18)  Christ reiterated the command in Luke 10:27.  The apostle Paul said that the whole law was fulfilled in the command, “love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Galatians 5:14).  A healthy love for God and ourselves will produce a healthy love for others, and out of that love, respect will follow.  Here is where I believe our spiritual problem has occurred.  The apostle Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:1-4 that in the last days people will take on some dangerous characteristics, such as “loving only themselves.  They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving.  They will be cruel.  And they will love pleasure rather than God.”  These verses are a clear warning of what happens when self becomes the focus of love.  I believe that is exactly what we are seeing in our society today.  God created us with a capacity to love.  To love Him.  To love one another.  But when that love becomes warped and distorted love invests its interests in self.  It’s called narcissism.  When we become the object of our love, we lose our ability to love God and others.  A lack of love for anyone outside of ourselves will result in a lack of respect for them.  What we love we worship.  Our lack of respect for one another is an evidence that our worship is of our self.  In order to be pure love, it must flow out of our love for God.  I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 

We are in a very sad downward spiral of disrespect in America that has become an epidemic.  You and I cannot force people to love God.  Nor can we force people to be respectful of one another.  However, we can guard our own hearts and our love for God and His Son.  We can also be careful that we not do anything that would harm our respect for ourselves, and of equal importance we can daily show respect and love to those around us.  We can be the example to the rest of the world what R-E-S-P-E-C-T is really all about.