Going Deeper into Loving Others
Respect: Everyone is Someone for Whom Christ Died
It’s time to go deeper into respect and begin seeing everyone through God’s eyes. We hope you’ve gathered a sister or two to talk with as you journey with us.
Lord, Your love is beyond our comprehension, so hard for us to understand. Even harder for us to share with others. Transform our hearts through Your Word. Teach us to love others like You.
Read the Reflection Scripture
All of us used to live that way, following passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
Ephesians 2:3-5 NLT
What insights did you gain from the Reflection Scripture and Reflection Thoughts which helped you understand respect as the first step in loving others?
- We all come from the same corrupt flesh. None of us are better than anyone, from birth. If you read Ephesians 2:1-2 before our Reflection Scripture, we see we all start off dead because of our disobedience and our many sins. All of us lived like everyone else, obeying the devil, whose spirit is behind every one of our refusals to obey God.
- It is only because God is so rich in mercy that He made a way for us to be saved. Rich, abounding. Mercy, kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with desire to help them (Merriam-Webster’s). His abounding mercy moved Him to offer salvation through Jesus. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!
- God’s mercy towards us, connects us with those who still need to receive His mercy. Understanding our own miserable afflicted state before our salvation should fill us with mercy for those who suffer in the same way we did previously.
I had an unusual lesson in respect the morning after we last met.
Driving by a pasture near my house I saw what looked like a large dead animal. As I got closer it began to move, my immediate response: Yuck! It was a big black vulture, wings extended, sunning himself on a chilly morning.
The Yuck I uttered on recognition of the form convicted a bit as the thought came to mind: He is groaning, waiting to be set free from corruption.
The verse connected to the thought is found in Romans:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Romans 8:20-22 ESV
My view of the vulture shifted from revulsion to pity, sympathy, and connection. I too groan in my waiting to be set free from corruption. He was not created to feast on death and we were not created to die.
Before sin entered the world there was no death, no carrion for a vulture to eat. Of course, nothing was created to eat flesh (Genesis 1:30). Death and those who feed on death, corruption and rotting flesh entered the world with sin.
I share this story for us to remember ourselves as the cause of death and Yuck! in the world. We too, each one of us, started off dead spiritually, Yucky, because of sin. We are no better than anyone, not even a vulture.
We are all suffering, waiting to be set free from death.
How did considering God as heroic cause you to look at respect differently? Did Mama Maggie’s idea of being a hero by doing what God wants you to do make you consider respect in a different light?
Our culture seems to be obsessed with superheroes lately. Spiderman, Batman, Superman, The Avengers, Thor. What is it about these characters that make them so appealing to us?
- They fight for the underdogs, those who can’t save themselves no matter how hard they try.
- Superheroes stand against evil.
- They sacrifice their personal comfort, lay their lives on the line, to fight for good.
Does this sound like someone we may already know? It’s like we are trying to create what we already have in Jesus.
Maybe Believers should change their definition of hero. Each time we respect someone, lay down our lives, our desires, our comfort, for them, the world is changed. Little by little. In Christ, we have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working in us to enable us to be heroes in our world. If we are willing.
Looking back at our definition of respect, what aspect do we see played out in our Reflection Scripture?
respect – noun 1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation… 2: an act of giving particular attention: consideration 3 a: high or special regard: esteem b: the quality or state of being esteemed…
─ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed
Respect: an act of giving particular attention, consideration.
God gave us – His afflicted, miserable, rebellious creatures – special consideration above everything else He created. He gave us a very gracious act of particular attention, stooping low to take on the nature of His creation and pay a price we couldn’t pay. This is divine respect. An act of love.
The Scriptures we considered this week revolved around those responsible for Jesus’s crucifixion.
Did you find yourself identifying with those He died for? Which ones were hard for you to stir up any respect or mercy for?
Read Matthew 26:26-35
Did you identify with the disciples in their declaration of faith and their failure to keep it? How did it make you feel hearing them called “liars”?
Consider one of your own faith failures. What factors were involved in making a statement of faith and failing to follow through?
- Pride in our own ability and strength.
- Fear of rejection.
- Peer pressure.
When you reread Jesus’s offer at the Last Supper, did it become more personal? How did you see His respect of the disciples in His offer when He knew they would be unfaithful?
The Jewish Council
We read the account of Jesus’s trial before the Council in Matthew 26:59-68. Turn to it now and review the story.
What primary emotion would you say describes the Council members?
Anger. Anger can easily stir up disrespectful words and attitudes.
What anger-filled words and actions do you see in the account?
- “He deserves death.”
- They spit in His face.
- They struck Him.
- They mocked Him.
The Pharisees, chief priests, and elders’ anger had been building for a long time. They had no respect for Jesus or His ministry. He threatened their place of authority and power. Anger can move us to do things we would never do otherwise. These men whose purpose was to model righteousness before the people chose to pervert justice to get what they wanted. They even accused God of blasphemy.
Has anger moved you to do something you said you never would? Or to disrespect others in a way to lift yourself up?
Read Ephesians 4:26-27
What warning does God give us about anger?
Anger, both righteous and unrighteous, can be an opportunity for sin to make a stronghold in our lives. We must be careful how we respond to the emotion of anger.
What does anger without sin look like?
The first step may be to recognize when you are angry and respond instead of react. Ask God the source of your anger: Is it righteous or unrighteous? If it’s unrighteous anger, repent and ask God to help you deal with the sin behind your anger. If it’s righteous anger, ask Him how to respond.
Turn to Mark 15:1-15
What was Pilate’s failure? What was the cause of his sin?
Pilate failed to do his job as one who was to judge the accused rightly. His sin was rooted in a fear of man far greater than he feared God.
Read Matthew 27:15-24
What message did Pilate’s wife send to him while he was sitting on the judgment seat?
Why was he afraid of the crowd?
Even with a divine warning through his wife regarding the righteousness of Jesus, Pilate’s fear of a riot among the people was far greater than his fear of God… any god…
People-pleasing can lead to doing the wrong thing when we know what is right. We can probably all remember a point in our life when we chose to please someone else rather than do what was right.
After recognizing your guilt in the past, did it move you to act differently in similar circumstances? How?
Can you find any mercy in your heart for those you see failing in the same way today?
Turn to Matthew 27:38-44 to review the actions of the thieves hanging on either side of Jesus.
Out of all those we see mocking Jesus on the cross, whose spiteful words toward Him seemed most absurd?
The thieves. Those under conviction just like Him, somehow saw themselves better than someone in the exact same position. Pride is a perverted emotion.
Read Luke 23:39-43
Here is the rest of the story of the thieves hanging alongside Jesus.
What do we see happening here?
The accounts in Matthew and Mark (15:32) note both thieves mocking Jesus from their own crosses. But something happened to one as he hung next to Jesus. One thief saw Jesus’s innocence and his own sin. He was brought low.
Think about the most recent time you were disrespectful. Is it possible you didn’t recognize your own lowly state?
The transformation in the heart of the repentant thief is a transformation we need to have in our hearts. Seeing ourselves as no better than anyone else is an essential step in loving God, which moves us toward loving others.
Read Luke 23:32-34
What types of people did we see Jesus die for in Scripture this last week?
- An unjust coward.
- Prideful mockers.
What was it Jesus said from the cross?
What work was He accomplishing on the cross? Who was it for?
Jim Carrey used to do a standup routine as Jesus on the cross. He began the routine by noting the need to keep our anger in check and how Jesus did just that, even to the end.
If that was me, I’d be like, “You guys are gonna get it. Wait till my Father hears about this!”
– Jim Carrey, “Unnatural Act”, 1991
This is a picture of who we are in the flesh. Why we couldn’t do what He did.
Jesus died loving each sinner, making the way for forgiveness, respecting us as lost, deceived, blind people who don’t know what we were doing.
This is the way He calls us to love others, too. Take up your cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).
There is a certain word we hear connected with respect in our culture, which reflects our attitude toward respect. You’ve probably said it yourself a time or two. Can you think what it might be?
You have to earn my respect.
Earn means: to receive as return for effort and especially for work done or services rendered (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.)
Do you think this is true, that respect must be earned, in light of what Jesus did? Do you see any hint of Jesus requiring anyone to earn His respect in any of the accounts we read this week?
When she mentioned it on Sunday, this idea of respect not being earned, I nodded in agreement because I knew where she was coming from after my last few weeks with this idea. I spent some time thinking about those I respect. Tried to find an example in my life where respect wasn’t earned. I found one and was excited to share it with her over lunch.
I shared my example. She blew holes through it with one response. And she was right. I can’t think of one example of someone I respect just because I love them. Just because they are a child of God.
I am convinced I cannot separate respect from love. God called us to love His children and bring others to Him. For me, the only way to further His call is to love and respect others not for who they will be after they know Jesus, but for the created child of the Father they are now.
This is the world’s biggest lie about respect: It must be earned.
But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NIV
This is one of those teachings which may be hard to wrap your mind around because it is so ingrained in our culture. Respect is not earned. It is a grace to be given in the name of Jesus Christ.
Everyone is someone Jesus deemed worth dying for — even those He knew would reject His gift of grace. As His followers we are called to be rich in mercy and love toward everyone, respecting every individual who crosses our paths as someone He valued enough to die for.
For those of us who recognize ourselves as one for whom Jesus died and are willing to begin respecting others as He does. Today at the shop, we ended today’s lesson with Communion.
He invited us all to His table. When we invite people to our tables in our homes, it is a sign of respect. His invitation to Communion is His ultimate sign of respect for each of us.
Come to His table.
On the night He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread.
He gave thanks for it, then broke it, saying:
“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, He took the cup, giving thanks for it, and saying:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
As often as we eat the bread of His body and drink the cup we proclaim the purpose of the Lord’s death until He returns.
We are joining Him in mission to love others to death.
— Liturgy based on 1Corinthians 11:24-26 and Matthew 26:26-28
Father God, thank You for Your great respect and love for all You’ve created. Jesus, thank You for Your love and obedience, even to death. Holy Spirit, thank You for the power which enables us to love others in the same way. May we go from this place today, proclaiming the Lord’s death as a sign of respect for every human being ever created, and do likewise. Amen
We are called to respect everyone, but not necessarily their choices.
Our next week of study on Respect is respecting everyone’s Freedom to Choose: Click here for Respect Week 2 – Freedom to Choose – Homework