Article: The Essence of Christian Respect: A Guiding Light for Life

Kathleen O'Hare News

As I delved into the depths of research for this article, I encountered a plethora of quotes about respect. One that stood out as a perfect introduction is by Laurence Sterne: “Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” This quote encapsulates the core idea that respect is our moral compass, a two-way process driven by actions and reactions, never stagnant or dormant. Respecting individuals is not just a choice but a fundamental ethical principle, underpinning our relationships and interactions. It involves acknowledging the intrinsic worth and dignity of each person and treating them with consideration, empathy, and fairness. In essence, respect defines our intrinsic value and shapes our lives and beliefs.

At the heart of our Christian faith lies an unwavering respect and reverence for God. It goes beyond acknowledging God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things; it requires obedience to His commandments and wholehearted worship with devotion, belief, and respect.

In our day-to-day lives, it is imperative to respect and treat others with dignity, acknowledging their self-worth without demeaning or degrading them. This includes using respectful language, showing kindness, and shunning discrimination or prejudice. In the Christian context, this means recognising that, in the eyes of God, all individuals are created equal and deserving of the same respect that we desire in return. It necessitates treating everyone with equality and fairness, irrespective of their race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic. Discrimination based on these factors has no place in the Christian faith.

In a world that has become increasingly interconnected and diverse, our commitment to respect becomes even more vital. This is especially true as we welcome immigrants and those fleeing injustice. Placing respect at the core of our welcome means treating people with dignity, valuing their self-worth, and refraining from demeaning or degrading language. It’s about showing kindness and actively working against discrimination and prejudice.

The sentiment of respect is beautifully encapsulated in the expression, “Human dignity is no other than the respect due to the image of God in us.” For Christians, respect, dignity, and humility are intricately woven into the fabric of their values.

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility. True humility is intelligent self-respect that keeps us from thinking too highly or too meanly of ourselves. It makes us modest by reminding us how far we have fallen short of what we can be.”

Respecting the individual is not just a value but a cornerstone of Christian life. It is vital for nurturing healthy relationships, fostering social harmony, and upholding human rights. Christians are called to practice this principle in every aspect of life, from personal interactions to social and professional contexts.

Christian respect occupies a higher plane, demonstrating respect and reverence in accordance with Christian principles and teachings. It is deeply rooted in the lessons of Jesus Christ and the values enshrined in the Bible. It encompasses respect for God, every human being, the sanctity of life, and the ideals of love, compassion, and forgiveness. These values guide Christian behaviour in all interpersonal relationships, be it with family, neighbours, friends, fellow believers, the world at large, and most importantly, with God.

In essence, Christian respect requires treating all human beings with dignity, equality, and respect. When we look at another person, we do not see labels but the image of God. We see someone created by God, addressed by God, accountable to God, loved by God, valued by God, and evaluated by God.

As we navigate the complex tapestry of life, the compass of Christian respect should be our guiding light. It is not just a moral principle; it’s a testament to our reverence for God and our unwavering commitment to uphold the dignity and worth of every individual. In a world often divided by differences, Christian respect stands as a beacon of unity, echoing the teachings of Christ in love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Christian respect is not a passive concept; it’s a vibrant force that propels us to honour the divine image within every person we encounter. It’s a moral sat-nav for our journey through life, reminding us that, through respect, we manifest our love for God and our fellow human beings.

Treat all human beings with dignity, equality, and respect.
When we look at any other person,
we do not see the label but the image of God.
We see someone created by God,
addressed by God,
accountable to God,
loved by God,
valued, and evaluated by God.