Why is it so difficult for us to respect people who deserve to be respected? Why is it especially true in our times, even among Christians, that people take such a stand against respect and authority? Why is it difficult for us to recognize the words of Scripture and to regard them as binding for us in our everyday life: "Outdo one another in showing honour" (Rom. 12: 10) and "Count others better than yourselves" (Philip. 2: 3)? Yes, why? Because we are so filled with our own importance and our own honour. The proud cannot humble themselves easily. When I respect someone else, I humble myself before him in spirit. Then I have taken the lower position; I have to honour the other person, because he is above me, because he is more mature or older, because he has attained more, because he is my superior, or because he is my parent.
Only the humble can give respect. But because we often lack humility, we refuse to respect others. And only the humble will accept the truth that because they are younger, they often do not have the same degree of maturity, the same wisdom, the same rights and privileges that an older person has. Children will see that because they are like children, needing education, they are not yet old enough to take on the responsibilities and privileges of parents. Employees will see that they are not the boss, and therefore have to accept and obey the current rules, which, of course, does not mean that we should ignore our sense of responsibility. It is a matter of accepting these things. If I respect God, I also have to respect those whom He has appointed to be above me, in spite of their deficiencies and mistakes.
That would be obvious to all of us, if, yes if, the sin of pride were not in us. Satan incites it with his arguments which we like so much to hear. For instance, "We all have the same rights", or, "No one should have a position of authority above anyone else". Satan, the fallen Lucifer, has to argue like this. He fell, because he did not want to respect God; he wanted to be equal with Him. Now he wants to pull us men after him. He wants to make us fall also, so that we will be his prey. He does not want to let us choose Jesus' way, being humble and giving respect to others. He does not want us to become like God and reach the great glory that he lost.
Therefore, the enemy works feverishly to incite us to rebel against authorities, because he knows that then we will join him in the rebellion against God, the highest authority. Satan's poison makes us want to be equal with others, to have equal rights and equal respect. He does not want us to recognize that there are rules and superiors, that the Kingdom of God is a hierarchy, a hierarchy of reverent love. If we do not want to admit this fact, because we are exceedingly proud, we will fall into Satan's hands and fall away from God just as he did. The Word of God tells us very clearly that we must be reverent, respectful and subject to others. "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5: 21). "Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another" (1 Pet. 5: 5).
According to the divine order of life, as long as the earth exists there will always be relationships that demand the paying of respect. There will always be those who teach and those who are taught; parents, and children who need to learn many things and be brought up; employers, and employees who have to learn the trade. Otherwise the result would be chaos. If today we deny this and loudly proclaim the new anti-authoritarian society and way of life, we will actually become slaves of those leaders and authorities who come from Satan. In the end we will have to do exactly what we are fighting against: to slavishly obey the authoritarian slogans of our leaders. But God would like to grant us a new and blessed relationship of respect for one another-one that stems from voluntary love and respect of those who deserve honour.
Lack of respect, which is a result of pride, destroys the Kingdom of God in our midst and binds us tightly to Satan. Indeed, at the end of our lives it can bring us into his kingdom of darkness, where the proud and haughty live. If we do not want that to be our fate, let us recognize those whom God has placed over us and strive to be freed from our disrespect. Jesus shows us the way to be healed from pride and disrespect. We should look at Him and His humility. He said, "The Son can do nothing of his own accord" (John 5: 19) and "The Father is greater than I" (John 14: 28). By looking at Jesus, the humble Son of God, who reverently always honoured the Father, we will be remade in His image.
We must fight the battle of faith in the power of His blood, so that His virtue of reverence might gain room in us. Taking the first step, we must humble ourselves and begin concretely to respect those whom we are supposed to respect. We must obey them by doing everything they demand that is not against our consciences (Acts 5: 29), be respectful towards them, show them our esteem and gratitude. We must prove to them, through our behaviour and actions, that we are respecting Jesus in them-Jesus, our Lord, who has placed them above us.
But if we see our superiors sinning, we must ask for the humility, the courage and the proper moment to speak with them about this. Otherwise we are in danger of speaking about them behind their backs and ruining their reputation instead of being a witness for Jesus with all respect for them. Jesus wants to set us free from disrespect and at the same time from trying to please man and being servile. Because this is a narrow path, we will only find it through the power of His redemption. When we live in true reverence and respect, the hosts of heaven will surround us. For we will be following their example. The angels and the cherubim, the elders and the saints humbly bow before God and in reverence cast their crowns before the throne of God (Rev. 4: 10).
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