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Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

1 Peter Chapter 2 verse 17

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The apostle Peter summarizes the Bible’s teaching on respect:“Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king” (1 Peter 2:17). This passage encompasses four major areas of our lives, teaching us that, as followers of Christ, we should respect all men, other Christians, God and governmental authorities. The word respect is a translation of the Greek word timēsate, meaning “honour or value.” It literally means “to place a great value or high price on something.”

To respect everyone, we must be conscious that God has created all people in His image, regardless of whether they believe in Christ. We sometimes talk about earning the respect of others, however the Apostle Peter says “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.” (1 Peter 2:18). Respect means we treat each other with politeness and courtesy. It means we recognise each other as fellow human beings with equal rights to ourselves. Although respect doesn’t mean that we always agree with the other person, it does mean we are prepared to listen and share our views without rudeness or impatience. Importantly, respect also means that we start with respect for ourselves and our own unique contribution to our homes, schools or communities.

Loving the brotherhood of believers means to love all believers, regardless of colour, nationality, opinions, or affiliations. We are to demonstrate to the world that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. The apostle John wrote of this principle a number of times. Quoting Jesus, he writes, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John13:34-55)

The word fear is a translation of the Greek word phobeisthe, meaning “fear, dread, and respect.” The word also implies that our respect for God leads to us to total obedience. Though we are to honour the king, we should “fear” God. Deuteronomy 10:12 says What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” The bottom line is that it is God alone whom we should “fear” in the sense of having an awed respect.

We honour and respect our governing authorities because they exist by the very will of God, (Romans 13:1-7). Such respect must be given whether we agree with them or not. Those in authority are God’s instruments for carrying out the purpose of governing and worthy of the respect God mandates. When we obey the principles of this passage, we give genuine credibility to our faith. As believers, we are to honour our governing authorities and their rights as such. But we may not give to the government those rights that belong to God alone, (Luke 20:25).


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