In the Bible, Peter was with Jesus for 31/2 years and after that he was a disciple for a long time. What does he have to say to us after being a disciple for so long?
1 Peter 2:13-17
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,
14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
The one thing Peter is trying to tell us is that we should respect each other. He says that whatever laws are there in the world we have to submit to that. It is by the Lord's will that authorities are kept in their place. It also says that God has given us an opportunity to respect others just as we respect him. Peter says live as free men. It is important for us to understand what is the meaning of being free? We are free in many ways. We are free in a free country. We are free to do anything. The question is what are we free for? Free to do bad things or free to do good things? As a free person God expects us to respect others. There are a lot of people around us we need to respect.
1. We need to respect children
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
2 "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--
3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
It talks about how children need to respect their parents. We know this very well and expect that children need to obey us as parents. Leviticus 19 also talks about how children should respect their parents.
17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
18 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
The question is how much do we respect them? How much do we respect the children's' feelings? Their attitudes? Maybe some of us do not have children, maybe your children have grown up and gone out. But the truth is how we look at any child in front of us.
As parents, our children are our property only for some time and after that they are gone. But in this 16 or 20 years when they are with us how much do we respect them?
The Bible says we need to train them and teach them. In Ephesians 6:4 it says , 'Fathers do not exasperate your children' or do not make them angry. As parents sometimes we become nags - 'Why are you sitting there', 'Why are you standing there', 'Why are you like this?' 'Why are you like that?' 'Look at your nose', 'Look at your face', 'Look at your hands'. There's not much respect we give them. The best way to help us to do that is to ask ourselves whether we would like others to treat us in the same way we treat our children.
2. We need to respect each other as husbands and wives
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
It talks about how the wife must respect the husband. That we know very well. Problem is that we don't know that husbands need to respect their wives as well.
1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Husbands must respect their wives. Why do we respect them? We respect them for what they are. Husband and wife must respect each other. Major problems or fights happen because we want our spouse to be like somebody else. And we become vocal about it, we express it. 'Why aren't you like that person?' 'Why can't you behave like that person?' 'Why can't you take care of the children like that person?' As he is, as she is, we need to love our spouses. We must respect them. We need to respect their weaknesses and not just their strength alone. That's very hard for us to do. Especially when they are really weak we don't respect them enough. God has sent you to fulfill those weaknesses in your spouse. God expects not only that wife should respect the husbands but that husbands should respect their wives.
3. We need to respect one another in the church
1 Peter 2:17
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
Peter says we need to respect everyone. We must respect everyone and not just the leaders. The congregation must respect the Ushers. If somebody asks us something it is a privilege for us to respect them and listen to them. We've got to respect the church service. When we come in, we must realize we're coming to a place where everyone is worshipping God together. One of the reasons we disrespect is because we have a lack of self-control. If there is a little bit of self-control I think we'll be able to respect the church better. Self-control is exercised when we switch off our cell phones. That way we show respect the church. Likewise anywhere we go we must respect others in that group.
4. We need to respect people outside the church
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you,
12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
It says don't be ambitious but make it your ambition to live a quiet life. We've got to do our own jobs and not interfere in someone else's work. We must not be dependent on someone else for a living. We must earn the respect of outsiders. How do we respect others? How do we help others to become disciples.
1 Peter 3:15-16
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
We must be able to answer everyone's questions. That's how we can win outsiders.
5. We need to respect God
"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. "But you ask, 'How have we shown contempt for your name?'
Here we see God giving two examples. A son respects the father and a servant respects the master. That's how we need to respect God. He says if we call Him Father where is the respect due to Him. One of the accusations that God had against the Israelites is that because of them His name was being profaned in the world. This is an important thing. Is God's name being profaned because of us in this world?
If we really respect people, we will respect them in our heart. It is wrong to fear people but right to respect them whether they are in front of us or not, if they are parents or children, if they are husband or wife, if they are usher or a leader or anybody. We've got to respect people outside whether they are educated, whether they are poor, whether they are dark, whether they are tall, whether they are fair, whatever they are?.. Finally we need to respect God. God is filled with respect for us and He is willing to respect us in every way.