“All I want is a little respect!”
Respect is good right? It is commanded in Scripture a number of times (Rom 13:7; Eph 5:33; 1 Thess 5:12; 1 Pet 2:18; 1 Pet 3:15). It is also modelled in Scripture a number of times (Mark 15:43; 1 Tim 2:9; 1 Tim 3:2; 1 Pet 3:1-2). A lack of proper respect is also part of the reason for, or result of, judgment in the Scriptures (Dt 28:49-50; Lam 5:11-12). Respect is therefore a wonderful act of godliness and a blessed commendation of character.
But, as with all virtues, when it is perceived as a right rather than a responsibility, then it becomes ugly. “All I want is a little respect” betrays a heart so intent on being respected that it will show great disrespect to get it. “All I want is a little respect” is a heart’s desire completely inverting what Scripture teaches about respect. Even the world recognises this is some minor way with their belief that “respect must be earned”.
To add the Biblical emphasis to that belief of the world “respect must be given”. Respect is to treat another so highly, that one would never even conceive of the thought “all I want from them is a little respect”. A truly respectable person never insists on being respected. Respect is not a two-way street; it is a one-way street. A person who respects another can treat another highly even if that person never earned it. Likewise, a disrespectful person will not treat another highly even if that person is worthy of great respect.
To focus on the earning of respect, or to qualify the giving of respect by the worthiness of the recipient is not a Biblical way of thinking about respect. Likewise, respect is not primarily a noble esteem of another, but a noble treatment of another. You might well doubt the competency of your government, husband,
Respecting others as you want to be respected is even a valid restating of the Golden Rule (Mat 7:12)! Respect is a responsibility, not a right. Ask yourself, “When all I want is respect, do I still respect or disrespect?”