Practicing Love, Honor and Respect
Do the Scriptures summarize the way we should interact with other people?
"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh" (1 Peter 2:17-18).
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8; compare 1 John 2:9-11).
As John tells us, God is love. Love sums up God's character, His motivation, how He lives and how He deals with us. He wants us to show love in all our dealings with others.
How should we regard those over us in positions of authority?
"Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men" (Titus 3:1-2; compare Ephesians 6:5-7).
"First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him. Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NCV).
"All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God. So those who are against the government are really against what God has commanded. And they will bring punishment on themselves. Those who do right do not have to fear the rulers; only those who do wrong fear them. Do you want to be unafraid of the rulers? Then do what is right, and they will praise you" (Romans 13:1-3, NCV).
How should husbands and wives interact with each other?
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25).
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them" (Colossians 3:19).
"... You husbands should live with your wives in an understanding way, since they are [physically] weaker than you. But show them respect, because God gives them the same blessing he gives you—the grace that gives true life. Do this so that nothing will stop your prayers" (1 Peter 3:7-8, NCV).
"In the same way, you wives should yield to your husbands. Then, if some husbands do not obey God's teaching, they will be persuaded to believe without anyone's saying a word to them. They will be persuaded by the way their wives live. Your husbands will see the pure lives you live with your respect for God" (1 Peter 3:1-2, NCV).
Do the Scriptures reveal that children should show and receive respect?
"'Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise—'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.' Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:2-4, NIV).
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, lest they become discouraged" (Colossians 3:20-21).
"For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (2 Corinthians 12:14).
It is just as important that parents be considerate, loving, gentle and encouraging to their children as it is for children to learn to respect, honor and love their parents. Mutual love and respect produce good character in children and build lasting bonds between them and their parents.
Respect learned in the home carries over into adult life. One of the causes of the anger and violence in societies is the sharp decline in genuine respect for others in the family—especially for the feelings and achievements of children.
Does God expect us to respond to everyone with kindness and gentleness?
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all ..." (2 Timothy 2:24).
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2, NIV; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8).
The godly way of life begins in our attitude toward others. In every area of life we should treat others with kindness, love and respect.
How vital is it that we also sincerely love and honor God the Father and His Son?
"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38; compare Malachi 1:6).
"And now ... what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul?" (Deuteronomy 10:12).
"Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" (Ephesians 6:24; compare John 5:22-23).Respecting, honoring and loving God the Father and His Son, Jesus the Messiah, is an essential aspect of our living the way of life God wants us to live.
All successful relationships require a degree of respect and honor for the parties involved. Add appreciation—the beginning of love—for each other and a lasting and close personal relationship may begin. But take away any of these essentials and the relationship will begin to wither. Take them all away and it will collapse.
Marriage, for example, can succeed only if each party loves, honors and respects the other. It is impossible to imagine a genuinely happy marriage in which one partner habitually disregards the feelings and desires of the other.
Yet many professing Christians try to conduct their relationship with God in precisely that manner. They expect God to respond with love and respect of their feelings and needs. But they see no need to respond to God with the same honor and respect. They disregard His Word, spurn His teachings and ignore His commands. They fail to comprehend the mutual obligations that must be present in the relationship God expects us to have with Him and with the converted spiritual family He is creating.
How does God view His relationship with those who truly are converted?
"'I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18).
"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7).
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12; compare Romans 8:14-17).
What was God's relationship with ancient Israel?
"I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people" (Leviticus 26:12).
"Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?" (Deuteronomy 32:6).
"... You [Israel] will call me, 'My husband,' and ... I [God] will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness ..." (Hosea 2:16, 19-20, NRSV).
What relationship with God has Christ made available to us through His sacrifice?
"'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the LORD. 'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people'" (Jeremiah 31:31-33, NIV).
"... He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood'" (1 Corinthians 11:25).As men and women enter into a marriage covenant (Malachi 2:14) in which they promise to cherish one another as husbands and wives, God has promised to enter into a covenant with those who will submit to Him with all their hearts and minds.
The word new in New Covenant, in both the Old and New Testaments, implies a refreshed or renewed covenant relationship. It does not imply a radically different covenant relationship.
The New Covenant is a refreshing, a renewing, of God's original covenant. We could compare this to the Constitution of the United States. Amendments are added to the original document that explain how the original document is to be interpreted under specific conditions. They modify the original, but they do not abolish it.
In a similar way the Scriptures confirm that a new — in the sense of a refreshed — covenant relationship exists for all who, following repentance and baptism, are transformed by God's Spirit (Hebrews 8:6, 10; Ephesians 2:11-13). That new relationship does not nullify or exclude the original document on which the old relationship was founded.
However, some aspects of that original document—the Old Testament Scriptures—must be interpreted and applied according to the spirit of the law as revealed by Christ instead of the precise letter of the law (2 Corinthians 3:6). For example, an adulterer who repents is forgiven instead of being stoned to death. Where there is repentance the old "ministry of condemnation" gives place to the much more glorious "ministry of justification" by which former sins may be forgiven and forgotten (verse 9, NRSV).
The New Testament Scriptures reveal well-defined guidelines for applying the Old Testament Scriptures to the renewed covenant relationship. No text is deleted from the old with the introduction of the new (Matthew 5:17). But some amendments to the old are specified in the new.
The most notable modifications are the inclusion of people from all nations, the addition of better promises—including the promise of eternal life—and the active working of God's Spirit in those who have entered into the New Covenant relationship with God. These and similar modifications dramatically improve the covenant relationship that exists between God and His people.
How is the future relationship between Christ and His Church described in the Scriptures?
"For I [Paul] have betrothed you [the Church] to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2; compare Ephesians 5:25-32).
"'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife [the Church] has made herself ready.' And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!"' And he said to me, 'These are the true sayings of God'" (Revelation 19:7-9).
When He returns to earth as the King of Kings, Jesus' relationship with His resurrected saints will be like that of a husband's to his wife. This means that the present relationship between Christ and the members of His Church is merely the beginning of an eternal relationship of trust, fidelity and love.
Our relationship with God can be compared with a growing family relationship between a father and his children or to an endearing relationship between a husband and his wife. Proper nourishment of this special relationship must involve love, respect, honor, action and effort. Like any relationship, its success also requires a major investment of time.
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