Respect and Responsibility

Taking a journey into the backcountry with a team of people is exciting. It can also be challenging. The longer we spend time together with others, the more we have to accept responsibilities as well as deal with each other’s personalities. If the circumstances become difficult on the journey, then each team member fulfilling his or her role in responsibility and respect becomes ever more essential.

The same is true in all of our relationships. The longer we spend time together with others, the more we have to fulfill our role in respecting others and accepting our responsibilities. This is clearly taught in Paul’s letters to believers in the first century.

1. Show respect for one another.

In Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is a lawyer in Macon, Georgia during the 1940’s. He defends a Tom Robinson, a black man accused of abusing a young white lady. In the portrayal of the trial, it becomes apparent that Tom is innocent of the crime, but the battle within the community becomes heated as Atticus is threatened along with his family. In the end, the jury convicts Tom of the crime. Atticus, devastated by the lack of justice, quietly gathers his papers and begins to leave the courtroom. In the balcony of the room the black community stands as one person as Atticus leaves the courtroom. A black minister, who is next to Atticus’ two children, tells the lawyer’s little girl: “Miss Jean Louise. Miss Jean Louise. Stand up. Your father’s passing by.” As a sign of respect and honor, the community in the balcony stands as the embattled attorney walks dejectedly out of the room. The scene is stirring!

In relationship with others, the Spirit inspires us to our specific role of respect. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we should excel in showing honor to others.

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV)

Regardless a person’s background or belief structure, we give them the respect they are due (Romans 13:7). We show respect for others because they are made in the image of God. We show respect for others because of their position or place of honor. We show respect for others for the responsibility they have been given.

2. Embrace our responsibility.

As Paul describes relationships in the church, he talks about how each member of the church has been given gifts to fulfill specific responsibilities. We have different gifts, but the same Spirit. We have differences of responsibility, but the same Lord. We have differences of work, but the same God. Each gift, service, and work is for the good of the entire church (1 Corinthians 12:7).

In a similar way, God puts us in relationship with others, and He places us in those relationships for His purposes. He has gifted us for that relationship, and that gifting helps us fulfill our responsibility. In relationships, each person is dependent upon the other, and that makes them partners. If one stops doing his job, then the other’s job suffers. As followers of Jesus, we honor Him by how well we accept and excel in our responsibilities.

So stop, take a breath, and pray:

“God, by Your Spirit, help me show respect for others and embrace my responsibilities so that You might lead me to health in my relationships.”

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