I think the message of respect is pretty clear in the Bible. We never have a just reason for showing disrespect for anyone. If Jesus tells us to love our enemies, the people who hate us and persecute us, isn't respect part of that? Colossians 3 has a clear message of respect.
Here we see instructions for wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives. Of course this is a relationship of mutual respect. The same is true for children obeying their parents and fathers not exasperating their children. Yes, parents need to have respect for their children. Then there is the part addressed to slaves.
It is difficult for most of us to relate to slavery so we liken it to work. We are to have respect for our bosses. Yes, even the bosses we disagree with and who we find unfair, we are to show respect. Of course Jesus has told us to love them but I just want to point out that respect is part of that because most of us leave that part out.
Sometimes we only respect people who deserve it. Perhaps that is the reason why there is such little respect in our society. If we don't know a person we don't consider that they might deserve respect. It is a useless argument anyway because we are to respect everyone, regardless if they deserve it our not. The surrendering of our seat to a stranger, a smile, the opening of a door, are all politeness but also a gesture of respect.
The Bible tells us to practice hospitality to strangers because we never know when it is an angel that we are showing such kindness. Respect to strangers is important because we don't know their story. I have an example of that.
Being a pastor of a small church in a difficult and spiritually dark part of the world, the Lord has provided a job that I can do on the side to put food on the table. I work from home as a customer care agent for a large tech company. Last month I took a call from a lady who was extremely rude and insulting. Nothing I did was good or fast enough for her. She spoke in a way to try to make me feel small and insignificant. At one point she even called me idiot.
These type of calls don't usually have any affect on me because I know where my worth and identity comes from but something this lady said as we were finishing our business together really shocked me. After treating me like a pile of dirt this lady ended the call with "God bless". What? This rude, uncaring, disrespectful woman was a sister in the Lord?
I can't help but wonder how she would have treated me if I had been invited as a guest preacher in her church. I wonder what she would have thought of me as me credentials were presented with all my various ministries I have led over the last twenty years. I wonder what she would have said to me after hearing me preaching with the anointing of God. I wonder.
But it should not matter that I am an elder of the church, an anointed preacher and teacher of the Word. I could be a homeless man looking for a dollar for a meal and she would still need to respect me according to Jesus. Respect is born out of love and we have been told by Jesus that we must love.
Of course love can't be commanded but that is not what Jesus was saying. Jesus said that IF we love him we would obey him. IF we love someone we will respect them. IF we have a real relationship with Jesus it is because his love for us has provoked that relationship. No one can be forced to love Jesus but love is the natural response when we meet him and know what he has done.
Apostle John makes it very clear if we do not love our brother then we do not love Jesus. After all, how can you love someone you don't see when you don't love the people you do see? That lady demonstrated to me that she just doesn't get it. She may know the words, she may go to church, she may even know about Jesus but her lack of love and respect to a stranger shows that she just doesn't get it. My friends, be careful how you treat people because regardless of who they are, this one thing you must remember: they are the object of our Father's affection and thus deserving of our respect.