Respect is powerful. When it becomes your posture, it defines you. Respect is a cultural issue. If you have it, you likely caught it from someone else. It becomes part of your DNA. If you lose respect, you become less human. If many people lose it, the nation moves toward being uncivilized. A nation that becomes uncivilized falls apart. Wealth can’t stop it. The military can’t restore it. Technology can’t revive it. Politicians can’t save it.

In history, great Chinese dynasties flourished—then died. In Central America, the Mayans self-destructed. The Greeks ruled, then failed. The Ottoman Empire vanished. Rome fell. When a nation loses civilian respect, it implodes.

Disrespect is not incurable. Yet, it can reach epidemic proportions. Those with disrespectful behavior need transformational rehabilitation. Respect is an inside job, a personal makeover. It must occur one person at a time.

The source of respect is spiritual. In all creation, only humans have spiritual capacity. This is God’s design. It signals human responsibility to know and follow the Creator. Humans also have the freedom to ignore God, to their peril.

The result of respect is character. Character is nurtured. It is empowered by an infusion of God’s love. Character produces personality and the power of respect.

The nature of respect is servanthood. Through respect for the Creator, a nation becomes “one nation under God.” Through submission to God, human beings pursue servanthood to others.

The purpose of respect is preservation. There is no perpetuity for a nation without respect. Care for others is the foundation of a civil society. Respect perseveres and sustains a nation.

The motive of respect is love. Respect ignites selfless love for God, for others, for country. It regulates the heartbeat of a nation. It purifies the oxygen of a nation’s soul. It empowers sustainable life.

The measure of respect is sacrifice. Respect without sacrifice is lifeless. Sacrifice is the fuel of respect. There is no genuine respect without sacrifice. Sacrifice defines respect.

The power of respect is forgiveness. Respect is a unique attribute of the human race. By nature, humans are sinful. They are forgiven by Jesus Christ. As forgiven, they are forgiving.

The authority of respect is submission. Respect originates, by definition, in submission. There can be no genuine respect unless humans submit to God as the Author of life. This Author distributes divine love. Divine love is unselfish. Unselfish love is the power behind human respect for one another.

The privilege of respect is honor. Serving others is an honor, not a duty. Jesus served humans by giving His life. Respect is counterintuitive to those who don’t know God.

The strength of respect is humility. Pride and respect are not companions. When forced, they have no strength. Jesus demonstrated the power of humility, which is nonsense for those without faith. For humble Christ-followers, respect comes from God’s power. That reality sustains humility.

The foundation of respect is Jesus Christ. True respect is not a worldly attribute. It is divine intervention from the Ruler of the universe. Therefore, respect is eternally sustainable. Jesus rules in respect, for respect, byrespect, for each person, toward every person.

When you sow respect, you harvest harmony. When you invest in harmony, you experience community. When you build community, you enjoy progress. Progress is a sacred trust given by your Creator.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 (The Message), “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.”

Kent R. Hunter and Tracee J. Swank are church consultants and authors of A Nation Reclaims Respect, available on Amazon.com and ChurchDoctor.org.

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