2004-01-22 - Respect as a Rule
1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (NIV)
The Bible has a lot to say about respect. There are passages that even instruct slaves to respect their masters even if they are not respectful of them. People of all ranges of relationships from spouses to friends to strangers are to be given proper respect.
There are limits. We are warned not to allow someone bringing another gospel into our homes as an example. Paul warns us not to tolerate strange doctrines. When the disciples were traveling, if a town did not welcome them they were not to rant and rave and complain about their mistreatment. The strongest rebuff would be to go to the edge of town and symbolically shake the dust off of their feet.
I had the point driven home firmly this week. My needs were flatly ignored in a set of plans being made. I was a little upset - both sad and angry. When someone close to me notice the plans really cramped my time badly, she was upset and supportive. "That shouldn't happen.", she said firmly. It was like water flowing into a dry river bed to feel that someone understood.
This verse indicates that believers should also respect unbelievers. If someone asks us to give a reason for the hope in our lives we should not jam the gospel down their throats with both hands. We should explain in simple, straightforward language. Answer their questions, avoiding questions that really don't apply. But take the time needed to answer completely. If there isn't enough time, arrange to get back to them or direct them to someone who can finish the job. All of this is a portion of respect for the questioner and his concerns.
I was reminded this week how it feels to be disrespected. Even though it was not severe, life-threatening or dangerous, it was important to me. The difference was vividly impressed upon me when I was defended. The two stood in sharp contrast in my mind.
Imagine the difference respect could make when the issues are eternal in nature.
Grace & Peace,