R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... find out what it means to me
Processing 1 Peter 2:18-25
As I was reading "servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle but also to those who are unreasonable..." the 60's song R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Aretha Franklin came to mind.
Yes, I started spelling out R-E-S-P-E-C-T followed by "find out what it means to me." Okay, alright! I admit I repeated "sock it to me" a few times a well.
I immediately started to scold myself for singing 60's music lyrics about a man doing a woman wrong while reading Scripture. But, as I continued to process and write out these verses and thinking about the story behind the song, my thinking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T was being challenged and adjusted.
Respect is earned and not given, right? We expect and demand respect while at the same time withholding respect from those who don't deserve it. Giving and showing respect and honor is reserved for those who earn and deserve them.
Well, this thinking doesn't line up with what God's word says in 1 Peter 2. Boy, this is so good and applicable for what's going right now in our nation. Based on what I've just read in Scripture, we need to adjust our thinking when it comes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It's not all about "what it means to ME" but what it means to the LORD. Talk about sock it to me.
This talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T comes right in the middle of the section that calls us to be excellent in our behavior and then goes on to describe what that looks like. "Honor all people, love the brotherhood fear God, honor the king...." and then he says to R-E-S-P-E-C-T your masters. And not just the good and gentle ones but those who are unreasonable and those who treat you unjustly and even cause you to suffer. Yikes!
Okay, so we don't have "masters," but we do have employers and other relationships in our lives where people have some authority over us. They make the calls, and they can make our lives miserable. We've already been instructed to submit to every human institution, honor all people, honor the king and now to subject and respect those who have authority over us. This flies in the face of culture and human emotion. So this is what I am supposed to do, but how? And, can someone please remind me again of the why?
What if I don't get the R-E-S-P-E-C-T I deserve? When those who have some authority in and over my life are unreasonable and cause me to suffer unjustly, how do I respond? Here is God's answer:
Follow Christ's example:
- Commit no sin
- Speak no lies
- When reviled, do not revile in return
- While suffering, utter no threats
- Keep entrusting yourself to God who judges righteously
- Die to sin
- Live to righteousness
- Remember the cross
Keep my behavior excellent. But wait, shouldn't we fight for injustices? Of course. Are we supposed to sit back and let the unjust rule? No. But, sometimes we aren't in a position to effect change. Sometimes we are stuck in an unjust situation with an unreasonable person or persons. Whether we have the ability and authority to effect change or not, the point is we keep our behavior excellent.
Honor and respect are given not demanded.
This is a tough pill to swallow for those who are suffering unjustly. I admit I sat in silence with the Lord after reading these verses as my heart struggled with just how unfair and unreasonable this sounded. Follow Christ's example... I know.
But have you ever thought of Christ's example as humanly impossible? I mean that's Jesus. He's God. Of course, He could do it. I scold myself again. I realize somewhere tucked deep inside my heart and mind is this idea that because He was fully God and fully man, the God part of Him kicked in giving Him the ability to endure such suffering.
I know what you are going to say. The Spirit of God that lives within me immediately reminded me too. I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. The same power is within me. Surrendering to and walking by the Spirit is the key to this life in Christ. In my own strength and flesh, I cannot keep my behavior excellent. Respect and honor the unreasonable and unjust people in my life? I need Holy Spirit power for that.
I need to keep reminding myself I have the ability to live this way because I have the Spirit of God within me. But, I also need to keep reminding myself of why it's important to live this way. I am...
- A beloved child of God
- To be holy as He is holy
- Redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus
- To proclaim His excellencies
- An alien here - my home is Heaven
- To conduct myself with fear during my stay here
- To keep my behavior excellent
Doing what is right glorifies God and silences the foolish
I can endure because I have the enduring Word of God, the Holy Spirit of God and the example of Christ. Oh Lord, help me to surrender my will to Yours and walk by the Spirit so that I do not carry out the desire of my flesh (Galatians 5:16).