Honor, Love, and Respect
What I’m about to share may be offensive to some.
In full disclosure, I’m simply relaying the words of someone else, one with more credibility than myself. Here’s what he wrote:
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” - 1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)
Peter’s words are an excellent reminder for us living in the 21st century.
It’s alarming to see how dishonoring society has become. The insistence on winning at any cost only encourages communication that degrades and demeans our fellow citizens.
Having different opinions was once acceptable. We could share our differences, attempt to listen to learn and respect each other — even when we could not agree. But today, it seems that winning at any cost is the goal, eliminating our responsibility to honor others.
It appears that Peter understood:
When our opinions become more important than people, we dishonor others and displease God.
Failure to respect others always leads to discrediting, shaming, humiliating, and dragging people down.
And what about hate?
It’s appropriate to hate injustice. But we must not be guilty of hating people — even those who contribute to unjust actions. Observe Peter’s words:
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
Okay. Let me be up-front.
There are a lot of things that I struggle with when I look at our government. I’m not always pleased or happy with laws passed by our elected officials. I’m convinced that Peter wasn’t all that pleased with everything he saw with his authorities, either.
But he instructs us to be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.
I willingly obey the law because it honors God, who ordained human government. As a Christ-follower, I’m to obey human-made laws as long as those regulations do not conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture (see Acts 4:19).
As an American, I have the freedom of expression. As a citizen, I have the right to vote for — or against — those representing me. We have legal rights and opportunities to confront injustice and encourage change.
These freedoms are precious to each of us. However, we are not to use our freedoms as a reason to ignore evil.
God has ordained human agencies (governments) to “…punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
There are consequences we face when we break the law.
To hold our officials accountable to the law is necessary. However, to resist God’s representative — appointed to uphold the law — is opposing God.
Dishonoring others is not a reflection of one who desires to honor God.
Hating others is not loving and fails to reflect God’s character.
Disrespecting others disrespects God.
I’ll choose to honor everyone and love rather than hate. I will fear — and respect — God by subjecting myself to the authorities He has placed over me. And, I’ll also remember to pray for the “emperor” — whoever he or she may be.
It’s important to myself, God, and others that my behavior be such that it will “silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.”
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” - Titus 3:1–2 (ESV)
In addition to my weekly blog, I share a short video with a message of hope. I’d love to have you check it out. After all, I think each of us can benefit from some HOPE.
Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.