The Rule of Law: Government of Relationships (2)
Loving our neighbor begins in respect.
“Honor your father and your mother….” Exodus 20:12
The commandment to honor our parents, inculcated throughout childhood, establishes a kind of template for all our relationships with others. Implicit in the idea of “honoring” is the notion of esteeming others as more important than oneself (cf. Phil. 2:3; Rom. 12:9-13). We must fix in our minds the idea that our neighbors, for all their shortcomings and foibles, are made in the image of God and are worthy of respect if only for this reason.
But honoring others goes beyond merely how we regard them in our minds. We honor our neighbors and respect them when we defer our wills and needs to theirs; when we speak well of and to them; as we look for opportunities to serve them or to bring the peace and joy of the Lord into their lives. Showing respect to others can be something as simple as learning and using their names or keeping up our yards and homes so as not to devalue our neighbors’ property by our sloth or neglect.
Showing respect to others means listening to their opinions, conversing with gentleness and grace, remarking the ways God shows His grace in and through them, and defending their honor against the gossip or slander of others.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the foundational meanings of “respect” is to know a sense of connection with someone. Here the idea of loving our neighbors as ourselves clearly applies in the ways we show respect to our neighbors. We speak and act toward them, as image-bearers of God, in the ways we would want them to speak and act toward us, for we are connected to them in a bond of love, nurtured and sustained within our souls.
For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the life of faith, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Bookstore, then Church Issues.
In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).
Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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