(Part 5 – Respect Linked to Love)

Respect everyone…

1 Peter 2:17

     I can’t seem to shake off the theme of my last few blog posts, “respect,” which was kindled as I heard people celebrate the life of Aretha Franklin. The ‘Queen of Soul’s’ rendition of the Otis Redding tune is the plea of a woman to her man, asking for ‘just a little bit’ of respect. Whether from my ‘man,’ a parent, child, boss, doctor, religious leader, public servant or grocery store clerk, ‘a little bit’ of r-e-s-p-e-c-t goes a very long way!

     This morning I woke much earlier than intended. In fact, I’d already been up two hours when my bedside alarm sounded. Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to be productive. Between loads of laundry, sorting through paperwork and organizing some countertop clutter, my thoughts turned once again to the matter of respect.

     As I thought, I imagined sitting down with Jesus, and over cups of steaming coffee, discussing respect. (By the way, I can’t even imagine Jesus wouldn’t like coffee!)

     What would Jesus say about respect? I wondered if he might begin by reminding me of this Scripture:

[An expert in religious law asked,] “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NLT)

     God-honoring respect, I believe, is always linked to love.

     Much of my life, I’ve struggled with nagging feelings of being unloved and unlovable. As a result, I’ve often been judgmental toward others, and I’ve lapsed easily into self-condemnation. Since I believe Scripture is true, and because God’s love is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, I’ve wrestled with this matter more than once.

     While pursuing truth, I’ve grown in the realization that the more I seek to love God with my entire—albeit imperfect—being, the more God reveals to me how loved and valued I am. The more I accept God’s love, the more I view others (my neighbors) and myself through a prism of divine worth and love.

     In writing the past few blog posts, I’ve also realized, the more I feel loved by God, the easier it is for me to show respect toward others—even those with whom I disagree—and, in turn, the more self-respect I feel.

     Progress is a process! In the journey to becoming more like Jesus in character and behavior, sometimes, it seems, I know I’m progressing, and other times I lament, “Are you ever going to get it!”

     To you who are traveling this journey with me,

          Let’s link arms of faith.

               Let’s keep learning to love liberally.

                    Let’s keep growing in grace.

                         Let’s commit to respecting one another—more than ‘just a little bit.’

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

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