Respect: Earned or Freely Given?

Many times growing up I have heard this statement and I imagine you have as well: "Respect is earned, not given." The meaning being that respect is something that is accumulated and deserved over time and not something that you extend to another person freely regardless of time known or regardless of possible wrongs done.

But that mindset seems to be an unbiblical one and just the opposite of what the Scripture commands for everyone, but especially those whose hearts have been changed by Jesus Christ.

For example Genesis 9:6 reads,

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."

There is an intrinsic amount of respect that we owe, not which is earned, all people as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

Leviticus 19:3 says,

"Everyone of you shall revere (respect) his father and mother."

Children do not wait for their parents to earn their respect, they are commanded by God to give it freely.

Ephesians 6:5 says,

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear (respect) and trembling, with a sincere heart..."

Again, workers do not wait for their bosses to earn respect, they are commanded to freely give it.

Ephesians 5:33 says,

"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

1 Peter 3:7,

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor respect) to the woman..."

No one begins or survives a marriage by waiting for their spouse to earn their respect. Scripture commands us to freely give it to each other.

Luke 6:31,

"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

If I want others to give me respect, then I must freely give it to them long before they have earned it.

So, the next time you hear the comment, "Respect is earned, not given," remember the person does not believe this "because the Bible tells them so" because the Bible says exactly the opposite. As humans and especially as followers of Christ, we freely give respect to others: non-believers, our bosses, our employees, our spouses, fellow believers, etc.,

The reason our default mindset on this issue is one that respect is earned, not given is because that's just how our sinful nature operates. That mindset is one of pride and a sinful focus on self and not the other person. I am thankful that Christ has redeemed me from all sin, including this unbiblical mindset and everytime I mess up and revert back to this unbiblical thinking, He is faithful to forgive me again and again.

Let's lovingly show some respect whether it is earned or not and do so for the glory of God.

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