By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T — God’s action verb!
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Around 90 A.D. and according to St. John, when the followers of Jesus were still finding their way, Jesus seemed to recognize that people didn’t treat each other very well. One could surmise that. The Romans still occupied the land with an oppressive sword. The Pharisees and the Sadducees didn’t agree, and the Christians were offering up an alternative kind of lifestyle. History supports that. Apparently, the way people were loving one another was coming up short. According to Jesus… that commandment needed re-placing. “A NEW commandment I give you…” is what he said. Or in the words of St. Paul… “let me show you a more excellent way.” Let’s go with that.
So, here are some guidelines for respectful living. I think we all can benefit.
- Express kindness. This is a good start. St. Paul wrote to his friends at Ephesus, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” It’s important because it starts with each of us. We can either be the problem or help end the problem.
- Be aware of diversity. Look around. There are differences everywhere and this really makes us the same! We all have positions of power. We all have vulnerabilities. Power is to be used for the good. Vulnerabilities require the best of community. Assumptions will get any one of us in trouble. Thus, pondering what we hear is critical. Confidentiality supports safety. Faith matters, right?
- Listen. Our culture seems bent on being right and winning. No matter the cost. James, the younger brother of Jesus said it this way… “Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to speak.” (James 1:19) or as my wife reminds me… “God gave you two ears and one mouth… use them proportionately!” We all like to be listened to. We can all be better listeners.
- Curb the judgement. “Who made you the boss of me?” I heard someone once say. Not a one of us must agree with what we hear. Yet, we live in a land that offers each of us the right to speak our minds. That’s where the r-e-s-p-e-c-t comes in. It’s God’s action verb… connected with our free will and a call to love our neighbor as much as if not more than we love our own self.
- Show interest. “Have a care,” as they used to say in Medieval days. It doesn’t take long for someone to realize how much you care. Relationships actually count on this. For better or for worse, we promise. And as we speak with love beginning our sentences with ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ we find that our relationships deepen becoming both flexible and trustworthy to the point of being unbreakable. Isn’t that what we are all seeking?
I’ve always liked that line from the Rolling Stones song… “you can’t always get what you want… but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” Oooh- Oooh. RESPECT. Something we all need and all need to give!
Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches in Texas and Louisiana over the last four decades. Follow his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Your comments and/or questions are always welcomed to [email protected].