Character Quality: RESPECT
We allow our Senior Council to plan our Flex Chapels about once a month and it is exciting to see them take hold of this leadership opportunity. Two of our seniors, Bethanne Lawson and Elly Hume, wrote and shared the following devotional about this month’s character quality of Respect.
As you all know, last month we spent a lot of time studying the character quality of humility. This month, we are going to focus on the character quality of respect. I think it’s really easy for us to tune out the word respect when we hear it, since we’ve heard about it so much and it can become redundant. I’m sure when most of us hear the word respect we automatically think of the basics—loving others, being kind, not being judgmental, etc. Which yes, all of that is true and vital as followers of Christ.
However, truly respecting other believers starts with a true and genuine love for God, and out of that will flow a love for others. And loving our brothers and sisters in Christ is so much more than the typical ideas of being nice and not judgmental.
We often forget that truly loving other believers means being willing to open up about the things of God and share how God is working in our lives. It means being willing to lower ourselves and be vulnerable and share our struggles with others. And often times, this means you have to admit things that may not be very easy to admit. Maybe you’ve been feeling lukewarm, or God feels distant, or you’re going through something that you just don’t understand. Talk about it! That’s why we are a body of believers.
It amazes me that we can go to a Christian school and go to Bible class or chapel every single day and learn about God, talk about God, and worship God, yet the minute we step out of the classroom or the auditorium, it’s not natural for us to talk about God. It’s not normal for us to open up about our struggles or ask for prayer.
But that’s not how it should be. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” As these verses show, we are called to love others by opening up about our walk with Christ and encouraging our brothers and sisters in theirs.
It’s super easy for us to get really excited about, for instance, a soccer game, and want to tell all our friends about it. But how often do we get so excited about the things of God that we can’t stop talking about it? I know for me personally, that doesn’t happen very often.
I do want to recognize, though, that for some of us, our walk with Christ may be rough and seem impossible to talk about. Maybe yours is filled with apathy and distance. Or maybe you don’t even know if you have a walk with Christ at all. I get that. But please talk about it. Speaking from experience, I know that hiding it and pretending everything is okay will only make it worse.
So find a close friend or mentor who you trust will pray for you, share truth with you, and point you to the cross. I promise it will be worth it and I promise it will get better. Talking about our relationship with Christ, or lack thereof, is far more important than talking about anything of earthly value.
Jefferson Bethke once said, “To be truly human is to be truly known and someone who hides can’t be known.” One of the worst and frankly most disrespectful and unloving things we could do to another believer is put them in a position where they do not feel comfortable sharing about their struggles and opening up about their relationship with Christ.
Truly loving and respecting others starts with a choice. We have to choose to humble ourselves and to open up about the things of God, even when it is not easy. So go ahead, be the weird one and talk about God, because if we’re all weird, none of us are, right?
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ so I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
I want you guys to remember that just because you aren’t perfect, just because you aren’t as good of a Christian as that other person in your class seems to be, just because you don’t have it all together, doesn’t mean that you have to pretend that that’s the case.
My prayer is that Faith becomes a place of authenticity and transparency, in which we are not afraid to vocalize our struggles and be honest. I see so many of you already being an amazing example of this! Keep it up, it is so cool to watch! So go ahead: share your story with others, open up and be vulnerable, show how Christ is working in your life and ultimately give Him the glory for it.