Summary: The very dignity you ascribe to your Lord you are to give to your mate. This does not mean we worship our wives, but it means we are to treasure them as one of our most precious gifts.

Waren Webster, missionary to Pakistan, tells of his first attempt

to be friendly to the children who came to watch him as he tore a

crate apart to rebuild it as a desk. He said, "Hello," and they

frowned and ran. He felt disappointed, but later they came back

and he said it again, and again they took off like a shot. He was

puzzled, and later he asked and English speaking Palestinian what

was happening. He explained to him that in their language the

sound of hello meant scram, get out of here. In our culture it is a

friendly sound, but in that culture it is the sound of hostility and


Communication of love is often very complex in the world of

cross-cultural ministry. When Webster preached his first sermon to

the people they began to laugh and giggle, and he was preaching a

serious message on the feeding of the 5000. He had to ask again

what was going on, and he got another lesson on the fine points of

the language. There are two words very much alike. The word for

fish is kurady, and the word for lizard is kirady. When he told of

the lad who gave his lunch he said that he had 5 loaves and 2 lizards.

They were laughing first at what kind of a mother would pack such

a lunch. He said it was a sacrifice, but anybody would be glad to

give it away, and it was no wonder that there were 12 baskets left

over, for no one could imagine who would eat the stuff.

That slight difference in the sound of one word turned his serious

sermon into a stand-up comedy routine. It is a very humbling

experience to try and communicate across cultural barriers. You

wonder why anybody ever tries, but the reason is simple. They do

so because Jesus said go into all the world and preach the Gospel to

every creature. If Christians are to honor their Lord's final

command, they have no choice but to tackle the tough job of

cross-cultural communication. We also help pay for the very

expensive job of teaching missionaries the language of the people

where they are going to serve. It is all costly and time consuming,

but it is done because of respect for the command of Jesus.

To forsake the task of fulfilling the Great Commission would be

to dishonor our Lord and lose respect for His will. The theme of

honor revolves around Jesus in the New Testament. Paul, Peter,

and John used the word honor frequently as they exalt Jesus as the

one who was worthy of honor, glory, and power forever and ever. It

is the theme song of heaven that Jesus is worthy of honor. The

Greek word to describe the honor of Christ is time. It is the same

spelling as our word for time. This word translated honor 32 times

in the New Testament means the worth one ascribes to a person. In

I Tim. 2:7 where Peter, referring to Christ, says, "Now to you who

believe, this stone is precious." The Greek word for precious is time.

This word for honor can mean precious, for that is the value you

can place on a person. They can be precious to you, and if you

honor Christ He will be precious to you. This is a word you use to

describe someone you treasure. They are worthy of honor, praise,

and your highest respect, because you value them and esteem them

highly, and you long to dignify them with your devotion. It is no

wonder that such a powerful word is used most often for the honor

we are to give to Christ. But it is a wonder when the same word is

used to describe how we are to relate to one another within the

family. When Peter says in I Peter 3:7 that husbands are to treat

their wives with respect, that is the word time. It is the same word

used of the honor and respect we are to show Christ.

The very dignity you ascribe to your Lord you are to give to

your mate. This does not mean we worship our wives, but it means

we are to treasure them as one of our most precious gifts. We are to

treat them like we do a new car that we do not want to get scratched

or dented. They are of great value and we do not want to see them

damaged. We have paid a great price to possess the car, and so why

should we not long to preserve its value and beauty. Many a wife

would love to be treated with the respect her husband gives to his

new car. But instead, she often feels like a junker, for he does not

seem to care about keeping her feeling good about herself by

building her self-image, which he could do by ascribing to her the

worth she is to him.

We honor dignitaries and people of power, wealth, and

popularity, but the greatest responsibility we have is to honor the

people God has given to us to be our family. The family is a mini

kingdom with rulers and followers, and with power, rank, and

responsibility. In this kingdom all are to be honored and respected

for their role in the kingdom. If we can succeed in respecting each

member of this kingdom of the home, we will have succeeded as

kings and queens of an empire that may not be important to man,

but one of great importance to God.

In Ex. 20:12 God's command to children is that they honor their

father and mother. The honor and respect due to kings, and to God

himself, is also due to parents. Within the family of God each

member is to treat the other members with respect. Paul used this

same word time in Rom. 12:10: "Honor one another above

yourselves." We have not exhausted the study of this word, but one

thing is evident, and that is where Christ is present a high sense of

honor and respect will characterize all who are aware of his

presence. In other words, if we open our home to Christ and

become aware of His presence, we will be a people who develop a

greater respect for one another. We would not throw rocks through

a stained glass window, nor wipe our shoes on a communion table.

We respect these material things because they are connected with

Christ. How much more should be respect and treasure persons in

whom Christ dwells?

The ideal home is one where every member of the family is

treated like royalty with each esteeming the other higher than

themselves. This is an ideal, of course, and we are consistent of

falling short of it, but that is the way it will be in eternity where we

will be like Christ, and be able to truly show honor to whom honor

is due. The reason it is so hard to respect people we live with is

because we know them too well. We can easily show respect and

give honor to some foreign dignitary we don't know from Adam

because we don't know him from Adam. We don't know that he

snores at night; leaves his socks on the floor, and forgets to put the

cat out. Our ignorance is bliss, and so we honor the man even if his

wife is a nervous wreck because of his bad manners. Closeness and

familiarity do breed contempt because we know too much to honor

those whose flaws are so obvious to us.

The problem with this is that it can lead us to the power of

negative thinking where we miss out on God's best because of our

misconceptions. Jesus said that a prophet has no honor in his own

country. He could not do much in His home- town of Nazareth

because He was known. They refused to give a hometown boy the

honor He deserved, and the result was, they lost out on the wonder

of His miracles. We think the same about our family so often. We

know our mates and children too well, and so we deny them the

honor and respect they need. By so doing we lose the potential of

what they might be had they gotten the respect they needed in order

to be their best.

Instead of saying, "What good can come out of Nazareth," our

goal should be to be to reverse this natural pessimism and begin to

look at the members of our family like Jesus does. He sees each one

of us, not just for what we are, but for what we can be. Jesus does

not necessarily respect the actual, but He does respect the potential.

This is why He became our Savior. He did not die for us because we

were so good. It is yet while we were yet sinners that He died for us.

Jesus does not save anyone because of what they are, but because of

what they can be. He showed great respect for the harlot, the

Publican, and other sinners. He did them the honor of talking with

them, eating with them, and entering their homes. It was not

because He loved what they were, but because He loved what they

could become. Every sinner is a potential saint, and so He saved the

sinner for the sake of the saint.

In the presence of Christ this is how we will treat people if we

are aware of His presence. If we open our home to Christ, it means

we will treat each other in the home with honor and respect. This

does not mean we have to praise their flaws, and pretend they are

pleasant when they are rotten. Since all people tend to be selfish,

this is a major problem with all family members. Mother scolded,

"How many times have I told you to share your toys with your

brother?" The older brother replied, "I am doing it mom. I'm

using the sled going down hill, and he's using it going up." It's hard

to respect this kind of 50-50 sharing.

There are a lot of things hard to respect about children. One baby

sitter said to the late arriving parents, "Don't apologize. I

wouldn't be in any hurry to come home either." Bad behavior is

not what Jesus respected in anyone. Jesus never honored anyone for

their sin or folly. He did not respect any kind of behavior but

righteous behavior, but He did respect people who fell short of

righteousness. If you don't do this, there is no one left to respect.

Christ expects us to respect persons because it is by means of respect

that persons are motivated toward the potential that God has in

mind for them. People need to be respected to bring out the best

them, and this is especially true for the people in our family. Let's

consider for example-


Children are so often a nuisance and a distraction from adult

goals. This led even the disciples of Jesus to treat them without

respect. They tried to keep children from bothering the master. But

Jesus had a great respect for children, and He told them to stop it

and let the children come to Him. Jesus gave honor to children by

giving them access to His presence, and by using their childlike faith

as an example to adults. "You must become like a child to enter the

kingdom of heaven," said Jesus. We could argue that Jesus was

never married and never had to endure the trials of the terrible

two's, the traumatic teens, or the temperamental twenties, but the

fact is, Jesus helped His mother raise the other children after Joseph

died. He did experience the trials of parenting.

Jesus did not have it made, for there was resistance to His

authority. He did not have the respect He should have from His

family. The Gospels tell us that they thought He was going crazy

when He proclaimed Himself the Messiah. They did not believe Him

until after the resurrection. He knew what it was like to live with

children who saw life from a different perspective. Maybe He even

had a Dennis the Menace brother to raise. I found this Dennis the

Menace prayer that reveals just how different a perspective can be.

He prayed, "I got into a good fight with Tommy. Mrs. Wilson

chased me home again, and Margaret said she hates me. Thank you

Lord for another perfect day." Jesus was not blind to this side of

childhood, but He saw beyond the actual to the potential, and this

demanded that children be respected as persons of worth.

Modern studies reveal that the one factor that all successful and

stable adults have in common is a sense of self-esteem they

developed in childhood. Dr. Stanley Coopersmith of the University

of California did a study of 1,748 boys that ran for 6 years. He

found that social class, ethnic background, and outside environment

played only a minor role in building self-esteem. A child's attitude

toward himself is formed primarily within the home. As his parents

see him, so he will see himself. If we are aware of the presence of

Christ in our home, we will be conscious of the need to respect our

children, and do these things Jesus would do to build their

self-esteem. Dr. Coopersmith discovered these three things about

successful parenting:

1. First of all love was expressed and felt. He writes, "It was a love

expressed in respect and concern for each child. When the child

feels he is respected and the object of parental pride, he sense he is a

person of significance."

2. Secondly, the parents do not pretend to be perfect, but share with

their children in the struggle of failure and guilt. They let the child

know they are loved even though they are sinners, and that

self-esteem need not be destroyed because they fail.

3. Thirdly, good parents help their teens believe they will make it as

adults. Teens fear the future, and they are full of self-doubt. This is

not the time to say that they will never amount to anything. That is

just what they fear. They need a family who has faith in them to

spur them on to fulfill their potential.

The key to a healthy family is respect. Each member of the

family must respect the worth of the others and seek to build that

worth rather than diminish it. If we are aware of the presence of

Christ in our home, we will not degrade our children and treat them

as worthless and insignificant. Parents need to work constantly in

making their children feel valuable as persons. This means listening

to them, and letting them have some say in decision making. It

means being sensitive to their feelings so that you do not condemned

them in front of their friends. Even disciple needs to be done in such

a way as to preserve their dignity and self-respect.

Parents need to make a conscious effort to try and see life from

their child's perspective. Children tend to be very literal minded,

and this leads to some strange communication. A small girl heard

that the neighbors had fired their cook, and for weeks she lived in

fear of them thinking they had set their poor cook on fire. A mother

told her boy to be sure to look up and down before he crossed the

street. He faithfully looked up to the sky and then down to the curb,

but out of a natural sense of self-preservation he also looked to the

right and to the left for cars. Parents sometimes think they are

communicating with their children, but it is just like cross-cultural

communications where what you think just is not so.

Respecting a child means seeking for feedback to know if what

you say is understood on their level. Don't take things for granted,

and don't assume they know the difference between things you mean

and things you don't. Parents do not realize they are conditioning

their children by their common expressions of frustration like:

"You never remember anything." "You always forget everything."

"You are such a klutz." Carelessness with our words can hurt a

child's self-esteem. If you open your home to Christ, one of the

evidences that you are growing in your awareness will be the

attitude of respect you develop for your children.

Believe it or not, this spirit of respect begins to effect the child

from the day of birth. Mothers and fathers relate to a child

differently, and they experience different things, or the same things

at different times. Mothers get nausea after a baby is conceived.

Fathers do not experience this until they change their first diaper.

There are a lot of differences, but one of the things that is the same is

that both parents are constantly communicating a sense of respect or

disrespect. Studies show that a baby receives many non-verbal

messages before it understands language. A baby can feel whether

or not the parent is holding it in love, out of duty, or with feelings of

resentment. They can feel if the holder enjoys their presence or not.

We are broadcasting feeling messages from day one.

Respecting a baby means to get your act together, forget your

frustrations and other problems, and concentrate on communicating

love to the baby. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." If you

are full of negative thoughts when you care for your baby, you are

conveying negative vibrations to the child. The second point we

want to focus on is really the first, but I want to close with it in order

to impress on our minds that it is the foundation for a happy home.


F. J. Sheed in his book Society And Sanity makes a profound

statement when he says, "In marriage reverence is more important

even than love...A steady awareness in each that the other has a

kinship with the eternal." In other words, even when you are not

feeling very loving toward your mate you are to respect them as

children of God. Loyalty to the royalty we have as children of the

King is possible in the presence of Christ. We do not always live as

children of the King, and so what we do is often not worthy of

respect, but we must be consistent in recognizing respect for a

person is not the same as condoning behavior, or approval of

attitudes. We need to develop the ability to reject negative behavior

and attitudes without rejecting the person behind them.

This is touchy business, and we will probably never get it down

pat in this life, but we must be ever working toward the goal of

giving our mates a sense of security about our respect for them. Our

security in Christ is based on the fact that we know He does not

reject us because of what He does not approve in our behavior and

attitudes. He is willing to forgive and respect us even when He

rejects what we do. Parents have to establish this same relationship

with children and with one another. The best partners are not those

who married the best people, but those who bring out the best in the

people they marry.

It scares me sometimes to think of what I would be like without

Lavonne. She did not know before she married me just how many

qualities I lack that make a man lovable to a woman. I was selfish

with workaholic tendencies, and had little interest in the virtues of

cleanliness, courtesy, and thoughtfulness. Had she dumped me

before she got me half-way civilized she would have missed out on

the pleasure of what she now has. But it was hard work. If there

are still some rough edges, which we know there are, my wife isn't

finished with me yet. What I am saying is, there is a cost involved in

showing respect. The price you have to pay to respect your mate is

the enduring of that less than their best as you seek to draw out their

best. This is a time consuming process, and frequent failure is the

norm, but this is what respect is all about.

Let's go back to that Greek word again, which is time. It has to

do with the value you put on a person. If you value a person and

treasure their worth you will pay a price for building a relationship

with them. This word for respect is also used to refer to the price or

value of something in the New Testament. You are bought with a

price. We still use honor in this way in one context. We pay an

honorarium to a guest speaker, and by this price we honor them by

saying that their service has been worthy of our respect, and so we

share this with you to show that we value you. To respect and honor

our mates means that we pay the price that is necessary to show

them that we treasure them, and that we consider them of value and

worthy of sacrifice.

Respect involves cost. To honor anyone you have to give them

something. If it cost you nothing to relate to another there is little

respect involved. The more you pay to relate to another, and the

more it cost you to please them, the more you honor them. This is

why courtship is such a time of romance. This is when all of one's

resources are channeled toward the building of your relationship.

Your time and money are consumed on one another. You feel

treasured and of great value to one another. After marriage your

resources need to go in many other directions, and this can lead to a

loss of the sense of your worth to each other. Mates need to work

hard at saving money and time so they can devote them solely to one

another just as they did in courtship. This is part of the whole idea

of respect and honor.

The cross is the perpetual symbol of just how greatly Christ

treasured His bride the church, and how great a price He was

willing to pay to purchase her and bring her to her full potential.

We need symbols in our relationship as mates also. Maybe it's some

special annual event or get away. Maybe its some weekly or

monthly outing, but we need to work at paying a price to honor our

mates. This is also the key element in respecting our children in

giving them the best. Many will argue with psychiatrist Justin S.

Green who wrote, "In my 25 years of practice, I have yet to see a

serious emotional problem in a child whose parents love each other

and whose love for the child was an outgrowth of their love for each


If you respect your mate, you are also respecting your Lord and your children.

This is supported by many modern studies. Delores

Curran, a family specialist, asks 551 specialists who work with

families to select out of 56 items those they felt were the key to

healthy families. Respect came up as number 3. James R. Hine,

professor of family relations and a martial therapist, did an

intensive study of 50 couples over a period of years, and he

concluded that mutual respect was one of the foundations for a

happy and enduring marriage.

John Drescher, author of 27 books, says in his book If We Were

Starting Our Marriage Over Again, "The more areas of respect, the

more satisfying the marriage." There are no end to the authorities

who will support the vital importance of respecting your mate to

achieve God's best. Jesus respects His bride even though she is far

from being without spot or wrinkle. He respects her potential and

relates to her in grace by giving much that is not deserved. He

relates in mercy and withholds judgment that is deserved.

To respect another person is to reflect to that person the presence

of Christ. If we are living in the awareness of Christ's presence in

our home, we will be asking often, "What would Jesus do?" This

will help us to show respect and honor where we would fail going by

our own feelings. May God help us bring this high level of respect

into our homes.