Respect has been defined as valuing others and ourselves because all people have been created in the image and likeness of God and matter to God and, therefore, should matter to us. Being created in the image and likeness of God establishes the principle of the dignity of all people – that is, the quality of being worthy of honour or respect.
The second most important commandment as identified by Jesus is: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
In other words, in the same way that we look after and care for ourselves, we are to do likewise for others.
Jesus also taught us to 'treat others the way we would like to treated' (Matthew 7:12).
God requires that we treat all people with dignity and respect.
Why Is Respect Such an Important Principle?
Respect is the necessary basis for the proper functioning of relationships. Without respect, relationships will be subject to abuse of some form. The Ten Commandments are founded on the principle of respect for God and others.
Exodus 20: 1–17 (NIV)
And God spoke all these words:
3 You shall have no other gods before me
4 You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below
7 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
12 Honour your father and your mother.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
The first four commands have to do with respect for God; the fifth command is about respecting our parents and; the last five commands have to do with respecting the life, property and well-being of our fellow human beings.
We live in a society that is increasingly becoming more and more disrespectful of others. This is particularly noticeable in the political arena, in the increasing criminal activity in society, and in social media where the level of abusive, derogatory and demeaning language towards others is simply disgraceful.
Without respect, the very fabric of society crumbles. Where there is no respect for the rule of law, anarchy ensues. When others’ dignity as human beings is disregarded by unscrupulous individuals, the result is arbitrary imprisonment, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, as well as inhuman working conditions where individuals are treated as mere tools for profit rather than free and responsible persons. When children are not taught to respect and obey their parents, juvenile delinquents emerge. When husbands and wives dishonour each other, marital breakdown occurs and family unity is negatively impacted. Only when respect is embraced can there be order, harmony and well-being in a family, community, or society.
The Apostle Paul provides a description in 2 Timothy 3 of what godlessness will look like in the last days. The description is characterized by disrespect and disregard for God and others.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
What Does The Bible Teach About Respect?
The Biblical definition of respect is centred around the concepts of value and honour. Various Greek words in the NT are used in this regard and, depending on the context, are translated as: respect, honour, value, esteem, reverence, and dignity.
To demonstrate true Biblical respect, we need to adopt an attitude of humility towards others as described by Paul in Romans 12:10 'Honour one another above yourselves' (let the other person have the credit - JB Phillips; practise playing second fiddle – The Message). Similarly, In Philippians 2:3-4, we read: 'Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.' (The Message).
We need to be on guard against an attitude where we ‘rate’ others according to their importance to us. If someone receives a high rating, then we are likely to listen to and value their opinions and want to spend time with them. If they receive a low rating, we are like to be fairly dismissive of them. This attitude is completely contrary to one of humility where we ‘consider others better than ourselves’.
Without true humility, it is impossible to demonstrate true nature of Biblical respect. The Bible teaches that honour and respect should be given to:
1. The Lord
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelation 4: 9 – 11)
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:11 - 13)
2. Governmental authorities
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed. (Romans 13:7)
3. Family Members
Parents - Honour your father and mother (Ephesians 6:2)
Husbands and wives - However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
Children - Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
4. The Elderly
Show respect to the aged; honour the presence of an elder; fear your God. (Leviticus 19:32)
5. Church Leaders
We ask you, friends, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. (1 Peter 2:17)
7. Master/Servant Relationship
Slaves, obey your human masters sincerely with a proper sense of respect and responsibility, as service rendered to Christ himself; not with the idea of currying favour with your master, but as the servants of Christ”. conscientiously doing what you believe to be the will of God for you. You may be sure that God will reward a person for good work, irrespectively of whether they be slave or free. And as for you employers, be as conscientious and responsible towards those who serve you as you expect them to be towards you, neither misusing the power over others that has been put in your hands, nor forgetting that you are responsible yourselves to a heavenly employer who makes no distinction between master and employee”. (Ephesians 6:5-9)
8. The Family of Faith
Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honour an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
What Could Respect Look Like In The School Community?
In light of the biblical value of respect, how should we act towards others?
*Treat others as we would like to be treated
*Treat students without favouritism and with respect
*Treat students as individuals created in the image of God
*Treat fellow staff and parents with respect
*Show consideration for others feelings, interests and points of view
*Respect difference and appreciate diversity
*Recognize others' strengths
*Cheer each other on
*Care for the school environment
*Teach students the Biblical principle of stewardship including care for God's creation
*Be punctual, and meet deadlines
*Demonstrate good manners
*Honour those in positions of responsibility and authority
*Listen and be attentive in meetings
*Disagree or put alternative viewpoints respectfully
*Speak honestly and truthfully to others when it is our place to do so
*Not speak critically about others behind their back
*Avoid being a ‘respecter of persons’
*Ensure conversations are pure, free from mocking, scoffing, sarcasm, put downs, and innuendo
*Greet others politely
*Avoid grumbling, complaining and blaming others for things going wrong
Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching us how we should live and how we should conduct ourselves in our relationships with others. Forgive us for those times when we have not shown an appropriate level of respect to others and help us walk in humility with one another, considering others before ourselves. And Lord, we give you praise and glory and honour …
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever! Amen.
Principal's Addresses from Previous Years: