Everyone is interested in youths. So much so that we have international youth day on the 12th of August this year. The question is, what are we going to tell young people? A common theme amongst wazee is “respect.” Many times we roll our eyes and think it is the same old talk, but let us think about respect for a minute. We have heard such sayings like, respect yourself and others will respect you. Men are respectable only as they respect. How true is this?
There was a lawyer in Jesus’ time who had a very compelling question to Jesus. The question he asked was, which of the laws given to them was the greatest of all (Matthew 22:35)? In other words, he wanted to know which one of the laws that God had given them must he keep if he fails in all. The answer furnished to him by Jesus- the greatest teacher ever lived was a four-letter word, LOVE (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus said, love God, and love your neighbor. Notice he says to love God with everything that you are, your heart, your soul, and your mind. Loving with everything is not dismissed in the second commandment to love your neighbor. It is expected to love with all of your heart, mind, and soul also.
We do not have a problem with the first one, we think. We love God with our hearts; we feel his presence, and we long for his embrace, don’t we? We also love God with our souls, right? We think about him, and we are interested to know him, we love reading his word, reading Christian books and listening to sermons. We also love God with our strength, and we serve him, don’t we? What about loving your neighbor as you love yourself?
Now, how does the greatest commandment above tie in with respect? Respect means having a high opinion of others and expressing it by knowing and doing what is morally right. One cannot say that they respect others if they are so full of themselves that they regard themselves as superior to others. In other words, respect is a sign of humility, and humility is first-born child of love. So do you have respect for others? Do you have respect for leaders, your parents, or other people? We’re not saying you have to love everything about your leaders, parents, or other people, but do you respect them? In that, they are created by God, and in a position of authority,? Christ charges us to love God, and people. Respect and love are related as demonstrated above. As an example, consider substituting the word love with respect in the above verses. It would read:
And he said to him, “You shall respect the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…And a second is like it: You shall respect your neighbor as yourself.
We are in a generation where this virtue has been a blur by selfishness. We learned that we are better than everyone around us, we have been made to believe that those who hold others with respect, are weak and therefore a disgrace to the society, and if we respect people, we respect them on what they have achieved (usually financially) regardless of the means. We are in a bent society where we honor vices at the expense of virtues.
When we don’t respect others, we mean there is something wrong with us. It is pride in its full manifestation. Disrespect makes us bully others, and get into fights, the worse kind of disrespect is the one hidden in pretense.
Jesus is calling us to a high view of respect, and that is love. When we love, we respect those who we love. Do you think if you respect God, you would have other gods in front of him? Or, you will make idols? Will you make his name in vain? Will you skip the sabbath? If you are respectful, wouldn’t you honor your father and mother? Would you hate and commit murder? Would you sleep with someone’s spouse or engage yourself in any sought of sexual immorality? Would you steal and damage another person’s property? Would you be saying lies against someone? Would you have an evil desire to get what other people have? The answer is no for sure.
We don’t respect because someone respects us; ‘respect me I respect you’ is not a right mentality, this is not what the bible teaches, but most importantly we respect because we love God and therefore we love people. Jesus loves his father so much that he honored him by humbling himself, emptying himself by taking the form of man, and not considering his equality with God as anything, and died on a humiliating cross for the people that God loves ( Philippians 2:5-8).
Therefore, love people and be humble. A Pastor shared in a sermon a statement that I intend not to forget. He said that there is always someone out there cooler than me. Whether one is rich or poor, brilliant or a fool, famous or unknown, in a position of honor or a common mwananchi, be it white or black, man or woman; everyone deserves respect simply because God created them and they’re made in his image. So please make a resolution from from this international youth day to respect all people.