Respect is one of the most essential and fundamental principles of ethics. God’s Word calls us to love one another and treat others with respect. One of the Ten Commandments is to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” known as the ‘Golden Rule’ of ethics. This sacred verse from the book of Leviticus tells us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The meaning of respect in the Bible is to treat others with the same love and respect that God has for us. As Christians, we must treat others how Jesus would with the compassion, love, and respect that He showed so many.
The following verses from the Bible are a reminder to have respect.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” - Romans 12:10
When God tells us to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, it means to be committed to being there for others as you would for a family member. Christians are all family through the body of Christ, and we are to act accordingly by treating each other with the same care that Jesus has for us. You can do this by being there for people at your church or helping all others who need it. Honoring others means appreciating and respecting them because they are important not just in your eyes but in God’s eyes too.
“Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.” - 1 Peter 2:17
When the Bible tells us to have “fear of the Lord,” it does not mean terror and torment. Fearing God is giving Him the highest honor and the up-most respect because He is Holy. We are to be in awe and submission for Him. When you love someone, you treat them with respect and honor. Upon recognizing the magnitude of God’s power and majesty, we submit to Him and depart from sin. As Christians, we are supposed to have complete reverence for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the One True King.
“Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they will keep watch over your souls as those who give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” - Hebrews 13:17
God instructs us to have respect for authority. When individuals have respect authority of the law, it fosters a balance. When individuals break the law, it disrupts that balance and can cause harm to those around them. Everything that happens in life is under His control. Every position of authority is placed under God’s sovereignty, so we are to trust His plan. Even if we do not agree with someone in a position of power, we are instructed to give them respect because they were placed in that role for a reason. This verse also notes to have respect and enthusiasm and not to sulk over the disagreement since it would only harm.
“Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 7:12
This verse is known as the Golden Rule that is taught as one of the most fundamental lessons to children. This verse clearly states what we now commonly say “treat others how you want to be treated.” How we treat others reflects how we view their worth. The Bible tells us many times not to be hypocrites. If we treat others horribly then, we cannot in good faith expect them to treat us the opposite way. Treat others with the compassion and concern that you would want them to show you.
“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” - 1 Corinthians 6:20
Self-respect is one of the most important qualities to have for your spiritual, mental, and physical health. Your body is your temple. Doing things that please God will also make your body thrive because God created it. If we let others disrespect our body, then we are doing ourselves and God a disservice. We must make ourselves both holy and acceptable to God by carefully choosing how we live our lives. Honoring our bodies can be achieved by eating healthy and working out to maintain great nutrition. Abstaining from sexual immorality, according to God’s word, will protect you from people and things that could harm you physically and spiritually.
“Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7
When the Lord said this to Samuel, He was essentially telling him to not look at a person in a superficial sense. We ought to do the same. Respect is not earned by how much money you have, what car you drive, what career you have, or physical appearance. Respect is earned by how you treat others which reflects who you are on the inside. God values your hearts more than anything. We must accept ourselves and Jesus into our hearts to truly embody the fruits of the spirit.
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” - Ephesians 5:29
Self-love and self-respect go hand and hand.We are to love and respect ourselves just as Jesus Christ loves us. Self-deprecation and low self-esteem do not glorify God. He created us in His image and made each of us special. When we talk and think negatively of ourselves, we are insulting God for His creation. As Christians, we are to view ourselves how God views us through love and adoration. Respect and nourish yourself by reflecting on God’s word. Pray and ask Him to let you see what He sees when He looks at you. Trying self-care activities such as positive self-talk can also help boost self-confidence and self-respect over time.
God emphasizes how vital it is to have respect for Him, others, authority, and ourselves many times in the Bible. The prevalence of this commandment in the Bible displays how important it is, especially for Christians, to hold that ethic.