One of the most popular songs of the 1960's was called "Respect." The most popular version was by Aretha Franklin, although it was written by another great R & B artist, Otis Redding. And yes, I'm a fan of 60's R & B.
One of the famous lines Aretha sings is, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!" Indeed, we all have our own sense of what respect is, and it can be very different for each of us.
But is respect really so variable? Is respect just based on personal preference, or is there more to it than that?
Being respected is more important than having great riches. To be well thought of is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor are alike in that the Lord made them all. The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble. [vss 1-3]
Respecting the Lord and not being proud will bring you wealth, honor, and life. Evil people’s lives are like paths covered with thorns and traps. People who guard themselves don’t have such problems. Train children to live the right way, and when they are old, they will not stray from it. [vss 4-6]
The rich rule over the poor, and borrowers are servants to lenders. Those who plan evil will receive trouble. Their cruel anger will come to an end. Generous people will be blessed, because they share their food with the poor. Get rid of the one who makes fun of wisdom. Then fighting, quarrels, and insults will stop. Whoever loves pure thoughts and kind words will have even the king as a friend. The Lord guards knowledge, but he destroys false words. [vss 7-12]
The lazy person says, “There’s a lion outside! I might get killed out in the street!” The words of an unfaithful wife are like a deep trap. Those who make the Lord angry will get caught by them. Every child is full of foolishness, but punishment can get rid of it. Whoever gets rich by mistreating the poor, and gives presents to the wealthy, will become poor. [vss 13-16]
(Proverbs 22:1-16 NCV) [Context– Proverbs 22]
Key phrase— Being respected is more important than having great riches
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Which verses speak specifically of respect, and what is said about it?
What is said in other verses that point to the value of respect?
Based on these verses, what do you see that brings lasting respect?
What are the things that bring disrespect, both in the short and long-term?
Respect is shown in many different ways—gratitude, fear, affection. Likewise, respect is gained through various means. Some respect is short-lived, even disingenuous, while respect for some people outlasts their lives on earth.
What causes this distinction in how long respect lasts? What do you think? The wise words in the Book of Proverbs reveal that integrity of character is connected to long-lasting and universal respect.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions
What causes you to respect others, and how do you express it?
What are the various ways you show respect to others?
How do you think the Golden Rule (Do unto others... Matt 7:12) relates to respect?
When you are shown respect, how do you return the favor?