Chapter 11: Respect & Pride

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Respect is deeply connected to pride. Everyone has a desire to be respected, but everyone doesn’t receive it. The world says respect must be earned and not everyone deserves it. The world also says those who don’t respect themselves should not be respected. The world continues to teach that some people are automatically deemed unworthy of respect because of their occupation, nationality, social class, and so on. Does God agree with these beliefs? As you will learn, God’s view of respect is different from the world’s philosophy.

What is Respect?

Most dictionaries provide three definitions for respect:

  1. To admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  2. To regard the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of someone.
  3. To treat someone with high-worth and value.

In the Bible, God commands us to “Respect everyone, and love the family of believers…” as mentioned from 1 Peter 2:17 (NLT). I believe when God refers to respecting everyone, his definition is the same as number three: To treat someone with high-worth and value.

Therefore, respect must not be contingent upon a person’s achievements or abilities, but solely because they’re made in the image of God.

I will support this statement soon. But first, how is pride connected to respect?

The Bible reveals that respect is an attribute of godly love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 outlines thirteen attributes of love. In verse 5 it says love “is not proud.”

The New International Version of the Bible renders the same verse 5 as “[love] does not dishonor.” To dishonor someone you first have to disrespect them. Dishonor is shaming, humiliating or degrading someone while disrespect is a lack of respect, esteem or courteous behavior (gracious consideration toward others); not treating someone with high worth or value.

So, if the Bible is telling us that godly love is not proud and love doesn’t dishonor (or disrespect others), then godly love always involves respect.

The Bible also says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). It’s safe to say that he who doesn’t respect others doesn’t know God.

Why are people disrespectful?

There are three reasons why people don’t respect others. We already know that they don’t know God, but let’s go deeper. Here are three more reasons:

  1. Because of pride, people are disrespectful. Pride cannot hold another human being in high worth or value because a false god needs to devalue others to uplift itself. Pride is about self-glorification and valuing self over others.
  2. Men do not respect other men because the nature of Satan dwells within (the nature that hates God and his creation). So naturally, mankind will find it hard to respect himself and his own kind.
  3. To value another human solely for being made in the image of God would bring glory and honor to the Supreme Creator. Therefore, men naturally do not respect other men.

Worldly Respect

But haven’t we been taught to respect others to get respect? And don’t many of us seem to do this? I would argue this isn’t godly respect as commanded by God. This kind of respect is found in definitions one and two:

  1. To admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  2. To regard the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of someone.

This kind of respect is what I call “worldly respect” and it is only shown for selfish reasons. If a person is not treated with respect, it’s less likely they will return it. And if they knew they could receive worldly respect without returning it, they would. Every day, we see the latter behavior from people who hold power over others.

The big guy doesn’t respect the little guy because the little guy has little power to command and receive respect from the big guy. But the little guy shows respect to the big guy only because the big guy has the power to hurt him if he doesn’t.

To go further, most people value the abilities and achievements of others but not the person. If the person they admire lost their talents, abilities or achievements, they would also lose respect for that person.

Entertainers are only respected for their performances and how they make people feel. If they were to stop performing and started working a “normal job,” people wouldn’t respect them as much.

So, when the world says they respect someone, it’s based on what that person can do for them—the abilities they admire or covet—and it’s never solely because they’re a creation of God.

This, once again, reveals the selfishness of our god complex. We only value what amuses us and what temporarily satisfies us. We admire the greatness in others because we long to achieve those things and haven’t done so yet, but we don’t really respect the people we admire. We value what they have because we want it.

We care nothing for the human being but rather what they have and how it will benefit us. If we were to surpass those we admire and they could do nothing for us, we would probably lose respect for them. Therefore, respect from the world is vain.

God’s desire for his creation

Does God agree with the worldly view of respect? Of course not. 1 Peter 2:17 is clear when it commands his children to respect everyone. I believe God wants us to highly value everyone no matter their sin, inability, or uselessness to us.

We can hate the sin of mankind, but we must value them as creatures made in the image of God. As born-again believers, we’re able to do this, but the children of Satan cannot comprehend this nor can they respect any of God’s creation with godly respect.

The scripture comes to mind:

“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude [image] of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing [disrespect]. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:9-10).

The words between brackets were added by me for clarity. What these verses are saying is we can’t say we love God (1 John 4:8) but disrespect the very beings made in his image (in this context of scripture, our dear brothers in Christ). To look at this another way, to disrespect another human being is to disrespect God.

Should respect be earned?

Respect should not be earned but given freely. The idea that respect must be earned is from Satan himself. It serves two purposes:

  1. It’s a way for men to justify their arrogance in the mistreatment of others. In other words: “It’s okay for me to dishonor this person because they have not earned my respect.”
  2. The belief that respect is earned turns men into man-pleasers. If we gain respect by doing things that appeal to people’s selfishness, our esteem becomes tied to men instead of God; and now men and Satan can control us. In the Self-Esteem chapter (10), we covered the dangers of drawing our esteem from any other person but God.

About people who don’t respect themselves

What about people who don’t respect themselves? Do we have to respect them? Yes. But let’s uncover why they don’t respect themselves.

People who don’t respect themselves believe they are worth very little. Satan hates God’s creation and will stop at nothing to get them to hold on to the lie that they are worthless. He knows if they don’t respect themselves, it’s easier to control and destroy them.

Those who don’t respect themselves are ignorant of God’s love and value for them. They should be encouraged, and not made to feel worse about themselves.

As mentioned before, our own nature thinks like Satan and therefore, many of us struggle with self-respect; and Satan never stops reinforcing what we already feel about ourselves.

I was watching an interview about an ex-porn star who changed her life to sell beauty products. After her segment on the radio show, she stayed in the studio. A second guest on the radio show, a comedian, came on to promote his tour.

He immediately spent the radio’s air time disrespecting this woman through jokes. It was clear he thought little of her because of her past profession as a sex actress.

But why did he feel the need to degrade this woman even after she had changed her life? This comic went out of his way to disrespect her. I couldn’t finish watching the interview because I was disgusted with his behavior and the hurt she had to endure.

At that moment, I got a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit. The comedian had done some shameful things in his life and he was degrading this woman to elevate himself.

So, the revelation here was that some people who disrespect others have a deep feeling of worthlessness and shame (even though they may have money and fame to cover it up) and seek to dishonor others to boost themselves up.

Therefore, it’s a sin to withhold respect from those who don’t respect themselves because they are still made in the image of God. And God still requires it from his people. Most importantly, respecting those who don’t know their value would be helpful in leading them to God.

Does God respect the wicked?

There’s a passage in the King James Bible that says God isn’t a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 KJV). This doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect people, it means he doesn’t favor anyone. Everyone is equally judged, rejected or accepted according to their deeds.

Therefore, God respects all of his creation. He values his creation so much he gave his son’s life so that they could be redeemed (John 3:16). But if men insist on being their own god and not allowing the Holy Spirit to transform them, they eventually become worthless and the Creator no longer respects them.

There are many passages referring to the unrepentant as unfruitful plants thrown into the fire because they became worthless. One passage is found in John 15:5-6 it says:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

If we insist on glorifying ourselves and allowing the nature of Satan to live within, we will be discarded like the trash we’ve become. In that instance, God has lost respect for us.

Think of it this way: If you created something for a purpose but it kept malfunctioning after numerous attempts to fix it, is it still valuable? Do you respect it? No, because it doesn’t serve its purpose.

God created man to glorify him (Isaiah 43:7) but if we don’t fulfill this purpose we will become worthless and discarded. God will no longer respect us. God doesn’t respect the numerous souls he sends to the lake of fire for their rebellion.

Do we have the right to disrespect the wicked?

No. God’s word still says to respect them. We don’t know their end and only God has the right to devalue a human soul because he created them. We are not God and cannot choose who we will value and devalue. Once again, it is a sin to disrespect others.

How to practice respect for all men.

By ourselves, it’s very difficult to respect any person solely because they are made in the image of God but this is what God calls his people to do. The scriptures are clear with God’s power all things are possible (Matthew 19:26, Philippians 4:13).

First, no one can show godly respect without God’s spirit dwelling within them. Therefore, we must be born of God in order to display godly respect.

Showing godly respect starts with our mindset. We must settle in our heart that all mankind is God’s precious property (not just our spiritual brothers and sisters, but everyone) because they are his creation made in his image.

We must look at every man and woman as God views them. People are like expensive fragile technology being repaired by a powerful corporation. This tech doesn’t belong to us and if we were to handle them carelessly or damage them in any way we have to answer to that corporation in the form of fines, imprisonment, and even death. Likewise, it’s the same with God and his creation.

It’s how we treat men that shows if we respect them. From the wickedest to the righteous. From who the world considers worthy of high respect to those who aren’t considered worthy of anything. Even if that person who provides no value to us, and if there’s nothing we admire about them, they still deserve respect because they are the creation of God.

Respecting others boils down to simply treating them the way we should be treated. Jesus said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).

We are free to give more honor to those based on rank and position, but we must never treat a person as if they’re worth less than a creation made in the image of God.

Frequently asked questions

What about correcting bad behavior?

Often the proud will respond to correction by claiming you are being disrespectful. This isn’t true. They only say this because they think of themselves as gods above reproach.

Correcting or rebuking a person for their bad behavior is not disrespectful, but the manner in which you do it can be. Therefore, we must be careful to call out the behavior as such while maintaining respect for the individual.

Do I have to respect a man that disrespects me?

Once again, yes. But respecting someone who is not respecting you does not mean you allow them to continue to disrespect you. If the person is unwilling to repent after rebuke and if it’s in your power to do so, you should remove yourself from that situation. By doing so, you’re saying I am highly valuable and will not be treated like I am worthless. If the person is seeking to further harm you, you have the right to defend yourself.

Should we demand respect?

You should demand respect but the world will never give you godly respect. They’ll respect your abilities, possessions, and potential to do something for them, but never respect you the way God intended it.

To minimize disrespect to yourself you must believe and display that you know your value and commit to rejecting any treatment that would be considered disrespectful if it’s in your power to do so.

When we internalize the value God has placed on us and our esteem comes from him, we can’t help but correct those who don’t respect us. Notice I didn’t say punish those who disrespect us. Revenge is God’s place (Romans 12:19, Isaiah 59:18).

Avenging yourself

When they disrespect you, they disrespect God and he will deal with them. It’s not our place to get revenge. It’s not to say we don’t report crimes to the authorities, but we rely on God to avenge us.

However, repeated disrespect that causes serious physical or spiritual harm is a cause to defend ourselves and prevent further harm. Allowing ourselves to be seriously harmed when we have the power to prevent it is not valuing God’s creation.

But God’s son said “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39). This is true but this doesn’t mean to be passive, rather it means refraining from revenge or retaliation when someone disrespects you. Instead, we are to let God get revenge as we pray for them and do good to them who do evil to us (Matthew 5:44).

In addition, the Scriptures are clear that the children of God will have to endure persecution from the children of Satan. But there is a balance between being a doormat and being mistreated for the sake of Christ.

The kingdom of God is full of respect

In the kingdom of God, all citizens are respected. God’s kingdom spans heaven and earth. You can tell if you’re in a fellowship from God on earth because the men and women respect one another no matter their economic status, race, gender, talents, and abilities or inability to do something for them. Men and women are highly valued just because they’re a child of God.

In the new earth, everyone will be respected, and while some may have more honor than others because of rank or position, no one in God’s kingdom will ever feel the offense of disrespect from another brother or sister because respect for men and women glorifies God.

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