Some people kill or engage in other illegal activities; trying to get it! Others do things they normally wouldn’t do; trying to get it! Still others buy things they can’t afford, to impress people they don’t even like; trying to get it! What are they trying to get? Respect! By definition, respect is the state or quality of being highly esteemed. We all want respect and we all want to be respected! We all want to be regarded and have a sense of worth and importance.
But think about it for a minute! Why does a person have to “do” something in order to gain or earn respect? Why can’t a person be respected simply because they are? In other words, why can’t respect simply be a given? Shouldn’t the very fact that a person “is” be enough for them to be respected? I want to encourage you to quit jumping through hoops, quit standing on your head, and quit turning backward flips trying to earn the respect of people! The very fact that you are is enough! And if they don’t respect you for that; that’s their problem not yours!
The bottom line is that many times people fail to exhibit respect toward others because they don’t respect themselves! Before you can respect others; you must first respect yourself! And in order to respect yourself; you must like and love yourself! Now, I’m not talking about the type of self-love that some people have where they are so in love with themselves that no one else in the world matters. (A prime example of this is a commercial I saw once where a man said to a young lady: “I’m tire of talking about myself; so I’m going to give you a chance to talk about me!”) No! I’m talking about having a healthy regard for yourself that promotes healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. If you don’t like yourself; why should other people like you? The first step in having the respect of others is to have respect for yourself!
And the first step in respecting others is understanding that every person is in a sense, an expression of the Divine! The Bible says that humanity was created in the image and likeness of God! Although that image has been tarnished by sin, faults, and failures, nevertheless, the image is still there! Therefore, the street-walker, the pimp, the prostitute, the gang-banger, the drug-addict, the homeless, and others that many in society do not highly esteem are indeed expressions of God! Every person is worthy of respect, not for what they do; but simply because they are! To disrespect them is to disrespect the God who created them! To disrespect them is to disrespect yourself, for at some level you and they are inseparably connected!
So, the next time you feel down because you think no one respects you, perhaps because of the mistakes you may have made in the past, remember the only people who have never made mistakes are the people who have never lived! Ask for God’s forgiveness and be sure to forgive yourself. Then, ask those you have offended for their forgiveness. And if those you have offended refuse to forgive you; don’t lose any sleep over it! Let it go and move on! The next time you are tempted to disrespect another person; remember that person is a creation of God! To disrespect them is to disrespect the God who made them and the God who made you! To disrespect them is to disrespect yourself! You can’t have one without the other! You can’t have respect for yourself without having respect for others! And you can’t have respect for others without having respect for yourself! Remember: People shouldn’t have to earn your respect and neither should you have to earn their respect! Respect should be mutually given! And respect should not be given because of what someone does; but merely because someone is! Our very existence is reason enough for respect!