Where Does Respect End?
1 Peter 2:17
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
1 Peter 2:17 (NIV)
This is a tough topic for me, so it is appropriate that I write about it. Very recently, I lost all respect for a man I considered a brother. Before everything changed, he was one of the closest people in my life, and I would have done anything for him. Over the last several months, he started exhibiting behaviors which were completely contradictory to the man I knew him to be. Not only did his words and actions have a strong impact on my life, they also fundamentally changed how I viewed him. During our last face-to-face interaction, I let him know that I no longer respected him.
At first, I struggled with forgiving this guy. I mean I really struggled with it. He never asked to be forgiven; in fact, he doubled down on his behavior, but the Lord convicted me to forgive him. God showed me the additional hurt and isolation I was causing the people around me because I held onto the bitterness and lack of forgiveness. I prayed and asked friends/spiritual elders for prayer and guidance to help me forgive this man, and I can honestly say I have forgiven him for his words and actions.
Even though I have forgiven him, I’m having a difficult time respecting him as a person. I’m having a difficult time living up to the above-mentioned verse. In my head, I know I need to separate not respecting his actions/words from not showing proper respect to him as a person; however, my heart says something else. Because of my inability to show him proper respect, I no longer have regular phone calls with him. We no longer pray with each other, and I realize I’ve taken away one of his key accountability partners. As I write this, I’ve realized by withholding proper respect, I’m not helping achieve Kingdom aims. I’m letting myself become defeated by the enemy. Instead of building up a brother, I’m actively taking steps to keep him isolated from a community of believers. I realized I’m playing judge instead of following the Bible’s instruction on how to treat someone else.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for withholding respect and not doing what I’ve been commanded to do. Lord, please give me the strength to see past words or actions and see people the way you do, and respect others the way Your Word instructs me to do so. Lord, I ask for the strength to respect everyone, not only those I think are “deserving” of my respect because God I know I have done enough which should disqualify me from being respected. Finally, Lord, I ask that you tear down whatever pride I have that is preventing me from reaching out and re-building community with a man I once considered a brother. In Jesus’ name… Amen.