WEEK TWO: RELATIONSHIPS
Romans 12:10 (NRSV)
…love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
#MeToo. Black Lives Matter. PRIDE. All over the United States, people are taking a stand against the harassment, abuse and discrimination of women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. It is unimaginable that these groups are still fighting for even the most basic rights of equality and justice. In addition, hate crimes and attacks against them continue every day. People are being treated as “lesser than” instead of equals.
I have noticed more ridicule and bias against men, too. Television programs that make them look like imbeciles. Talk shows that consist of put downs, insults and crude jokes. Wives gathered over coffee to complain or laugh about their husbands. We have a long way to go in fostering mutual honor and respect from all, for all.
As we journey that long way to go, Paul and Jesus tell us to take the high road. Paul instructs us to “outdo one another in showing honor.” Jesus speaks of respecting one another, too. “Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).” “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).”
Our word for today, “respect,” has several superb meanings, including esteem, value, revere, appreciate, and accept. Can you imagine a world where everyone was regarded in these beautiful ways?
We are to oppose injustice and to stand up for those who are oppressed. But we do not do this by putting others down, hurling insults, or abusing them in any way. We first must become an example of the ideal for which we are striving. Often our knee-jerk reaction to someone who is insulting and hateful is to return the same (“he did it first- he had it coming- he deserves a taste of his own medicine”). We seem to think Jesus said, “Do to others as they did to you.” But we are called to behave differently, to walk as lights of love in this world.
Kahlil Gibran said, “To belittle is to be little.”
On her blog, Maddie shared, “Never dim anyone else’s light so that you can shine. Just shine.” (http://sequinsinthecityy.blogspot.com/2015/03
We are to speak, we are to write, we are to vote, we are to peacefully protest, we are to help uplift those oppressed. We are also to model dignity, honor and respect for every person while we act. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” How fully Jesus showed this to be true, with his life of complete, sacrificial love! If we were to outdo one another in showing honor, people would no longer be considered “lesser than”- in fact, they would be elevated to “better than” ourselves. We begin by regarding them with esteem, reverence and value.
So let us outdo one another in showing honor.
Are there any new ways you might work for justice, equality and respect for all people?
When a group discussion becomes disrespectful or hurtful of others, how do you react? Would you find it helpful to have a plan or words in mind to use when this occurs?
How might you more visibly shine as an example of one who respects and honors all human beings? Is there anything from which you would need to refrain?
You teach us to live differently in this world. Help us to walk the higher path of light and love as we work for the dignity, well-being and equality of everyone. Form us into models of kindness, honor and respect. Guard our words. Guide our actions. Grace us with your presence. We have so much to do! Help us to begin. Amen.