To love, honor, and respect are terms that have been in traditional wedding vows. These terms must have been rooted in the biblical definition of love in I Corinthians 13. As I have gone down through the verses on love I got stuck on the one that says that love does not dishonor another. Over the past few months I have just been slowly and thoughtful chewing on its meaning. There is a general meaning and then their is a more specific meaning.
Here I will turn the word around from what it is to dishonor to what it means to honor. To honor someone is to give preference to them and to lift them up. The tradition of opening a door for a woman by a man is a public way of showing honor and respect. To be polite and say words like excuse me, thank you, and please may sound like just good manners, but they are in fact showing honor for another person. To the believer in Jesus, we are instructed in Romans 12:10 to "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor others above yourself." In a general sense, honor is thinking of and acting in a way that gives preference to the people in your life, those you know and strangers you encounter. This seems so foreign in our "Me" culture. This very lack of honoring others is a killing disease among us socially. We all feel the effect of being dishonored and know intrinsically that it is wrong. Our sinful nature has been given free reign with far to little social constraints. Rudeness has been widely the norm. I can't change the whole world, but I can change myself by trying my best to act in love to those who are close and those whom are strangers. I encourage you as well to be mindful to show honor to all those around you. Honor is manifested in kindness, gentleness, patience, truly listening and caring. If you are a follower of Christ, remind yourself that you are an alien and stranger in this world and that you do not live by the ways of this world, but you live by the rule and reign of your Lord whose kingdom is a heavenly kingdom.
Showing respect is the more specific way to show honor to an individual. Now this is where I got stuck, this is where my writers block came in and froze me in my tracks. I had to stop and check myself before I could even write about respect. I have heard the term "disrespectful" used many times to describe me. I have been told that my words or actions were disrespectful and it has broken me. In the depths of my heart I do not will to be that way. My core being loves people and wants very much to respect them and relate to them. And yet I have embedded in me this notion that I am disrespectful. Because of this I have developed a desire to not be disrespectful at all, ever, to anyone. And let me tell you, this makes it very difficult to manage in this world of power hungry rude people. When I talk about respecting others I do not want to give the message of being a doormat. I do not believe that it is ever ok for someone to take advantage of another because of bullying, abuse, or power grabbing. As my husband says respect is earned and to be respected you need to act respectable. Respect is dependent on your actions, not the interpretation of them. Respect is honoring the desire of another person. Disrespect is not something that happens by mistake, by making someone angry, or by stepping on toes that you had no idea were even under foot. To respect someone is knowing what bugs them and not doing it. Respect is knowing what someone would like and doing it their way. Respecting an individual is based in knowledge of them personally. We all must teach each other what it means to be respected by each other in the fine details of interpersonal relationships. These differences could come in the form of values, cultural differences, and personal preference. It always takes two people who are willing to relate openly with one another and share what these differences are.
To those who really know me, you know that my husband and I are opposite in so many ways. If I come at a problem one way he will come at it in the exact opposite. If I naturally move to the left, he will naturally move to the right. In our dance of life we step on each others toes. Recently we have taken on a diy construction project. We had a shed built just off our deck back in March. This shed is to be a haven for me. I'm very extroverted and love to be with people, but at the end of the day I need some place to go and take the introverted side of me and recharge alone. ( Did you know that for people who are equally extroverted and introverted there is a term called amnivert? Yes that is me!) The shed needed to be finished on the inside and we are in the process of doing that. It is slow going because neither of us have experience in this and we have a hard time working together on projects. During the first few Saturdays of working together we were really getting frustrated with one another. I felt that whatever I said wasn't being understood. My husband has a way of knowing what he wants to say in his head but then never really says it, and I just don't get the message. I think he just is being careful with me and I just wish he would blurt it out, like me. In the frustration I was afraid that I was being disrespectful to him because our communication wasn't going so well. In reality we are constantly learning each other because we are so vastly different, and will always need to work on communication. Once I come across something that makes him mad or frustrates him, out of respect I have to make a mental note of not doing something or saying something. That is respect. Now I hate it when I step on his toes, but like I said before, if you don't mean to it isn't intentional disrespect. Honor and respect is knowing what is important to another person and complying. Philippians 2:4 explains this by saying, "Look not only to your own interest, but each of you to the interest of others."
What about honor and respect when someone is rude or abusive? In this situation complying is all they want and they have no respect for you. The type of respect I talked about above is when there is a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity. When you interact with someone who is rude or abusive you must always keep yourself safe first, then secondly respect yourself. Respecting yourself can mean removing yourself from the situation or the person. If you choose to stay with the person, respecting yourself would mean not joining into the abuse behavior and keeping yourself safe.
With a rude person respecting yourself means that you will set up boundaries and be firm about the way you expect to be treated. If the other person does not respect your boundaries you will have to accept that the trouble lies with them and be responsible to be a respectful person in how you handle things. Respecting yourself is to stay on the high ground and not retaliate. Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek. Turning the other cheek is choosing to not retaliate even if the person chooses to continue to disrespect you and wants to strike again.
To love other people with the love of Christ may look weak. To show honor and respect to people who are unlovely in their actions and words may seem like you have no backbone. But in reality showing honor and respect to unlovely acting people takes God powered strength. The amazing thing is that when you show honor and respect to others you are showing honor and respect for yourself as well. Go be God's love in the world!