Monday, July 18, 2022

The Foundation of Respect for Others

By Ron Bartanen


    Dishonesty, drug trafficking, sexual sins, murder, terrorism and a host of assaults against humanity continue to eat away at the foundation of our nation.  Can such spiritual erosion ever be checked? The question was asked in Psalms 11:3, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  By “foundations,” reference is obviously made to the principles and values that undergird the nation, and the worthy institutions, such as the homes and churches, that characterize the nation.  No nation can be stronger than its guiding principles.  We have been fortunate to live in a country blessed by those who came before us with a respect for God and His word, as revealed within the Bible.  In the past few decades, this respect has been waning, with the result of increased lawlessness and violence, causing many to question the future of our republic and our freedoms.

    When we take our eyes off God’s word, we soon forget who we are—creatures of God’s making, as Genesis 1:27 states it, we are made “in the image of God.”  This realization should produce a respect for ourselves, and also for others.  Respect for self and respect for others are inseparable twins.  Jesus summarized the principles of God’s Law with two commands: (1) “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind;” and (2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).  We cannot truly love God until we learn to love those whom God loves, and for whom Christ died.  Nor can we truly love and respect ourselves if, in life, we are trampling others under foot.  Dishonesty, thoughtlessness, broken homes, thievery, adultery, murder, rape and a host of other social problems have their roots in the fact that respect for others and a respect for self are missing in the lives of many.  It is easier for us to attempt to blame guns for increasing acts of widespread violence, than it is to admit that, as a nation, we have lost respect for God, self and others.  When a culture becomes so self-centered that people are used and abused for selfish reasons, that society is in trouble.  The commandments commanding the honoring of parents, and forbidding murder, adultery, stealing, bearing false witness and coveting a neighbor’s wife and possessions (Exodus 20:12-17) are there to teach us respect for others.

    How do we know when we love our neighbors as we love ourselves? I believe Jesus gave us the answer to that question in what is popularly known as the “Golden Rule”: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).  What a different and better world this would be if all could learn respect for others. 

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at:

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