I have talked about “the respect knob” in past posts long ago, specifically referring to the idea that we don’t want to turn up the external “volume” of our showing respect too high for men who are unavailable to us. I want to elaborate a bit more on this idea. Bear with me, because I am still working through this analogy. Maybe y’all can help me clarify it and develop it more thoroughly. 🙂
When we learn about the powerful concept of respect and what a profound and basic masculine need this is – we must use this information wisely and in ways that honor Christ and our brothers, as well as unbelieving men. We must not play with men’s hearts, manipulate men with our knowledge, or use the things we have learned about respect to see if we can snag a man’s attention who is not available to us legitimately. As godly women, we don’t play games with men or toy with their emotions – that would be most unloving and disrespectful. This knowledge about what men most need is a precious treasure God is entrusting to us. Let’s be faithful stewards of that trust – and let’s be careful not to use this feminine power carelessly or to purposely cause pain.
Let’s only use our understanding of men and their needs to bless them.
The highest setting on our respect knob in our hearts and minds is reserved for God alone. That is the ultimate level of reverence, awe, and worship that we can possibly give of ourselves. Only God is worthy of this setting.
I think of my internal level of respect in my heart for others as being separate from the level of respect I demonstrate externally. I hope that makes sense. I keep my internal respect knob set on “high” for my husband and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. (But not anywhere near as high as my setting for Jesus.)
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17
I want to very consciously seek to treat all people with respect and honor and to have a high level of respect (and godly love) in my heart for everyone – to please God. Then there is a kind of respect that we use with people in positions of God-given authority – the government, church leaders, our bosses, parents (for underage children), and husbands for wives. We submit to them and respect them out of reverence for and submission to Christ (unless they ask us to clearly sin or condone sin).
My point with “keeping the external respect volume turned down a bit lower” for men to whom I am not married is that I don’t demonstrate as much tangible respect in my words, my expressions, and my behavior. I treat my husband with greater displays of respect than I use with men who are not my husband. And I focus on nurturing the respect in my soul for my husband specifically (in ways that I don’t do for others) because this is a command of God for me as a wife.
I think this is similar to our “love knob.” The highest setting would be the love we have for God. Then way below that would be the love we have for our spouses and families. We are commanded to love all people with the love of God. But we would demonstrate love to non-spouses and non-family members in appropriate and different ways from how we would demonstrate love to our spouse.
We are to love and honor all people. Respecting people is part of godly love in I Corinthians 13:4-8a.
- We respect that they are made in the image of God.
- We respect that they are human beings who are precious to Christ.
- We respect the position they have in our lives.
- We acknowledge that God loves each one of them dearly.
- We honor them and treat them well.
- We show God’s love to those in the body of Christ – men, women, and children.
- We show God’s love to unbelievers.
The caution we are to exercise around men who are not our husbands (or who we are not courting/dating) – is because if we lavish respect, praise, admiration, affirmation, and attention on other men, it is possible that we could create romantic attraction, or we may give the appearance to other people or the other men that we are romantically attracted to them. Or we may incite our boyfriend/fiancé/husband to jealousy. I want to see us treat all people, including other men with respect, but I want us to be careful to guard our hearts and not put a stumbling block in front of our brothers, or ourselves. I believe God calls us to love and respect others – while we are humbly aware that we are not above temptation into adultery and that we must guard our hearts from potential inappropriate interactions with other men.
Some simple things I do to guard my heart, respect God, respect my husband, respect my marriage, and respect other men:
- dress modestly
- avoid being alone with other men or having private messages/conversations with other men whenever possible
- be aware of any sense that I am feeling tempted and talk to God, my husband, and/or accountability partners immediately
- watch my motives for purity around other men
- back way off from a man if I detect any “chemistry” or interest on his part or my part
- copy my husband on correspondence with other men
- pray only in groups if there are men present, not one-on-one with a man
- don’t go overboard with compliments, praise, affirmation, encouragement, or acts of service for other men
Some ways we can show respect to all of our brothers (and sisters) in Christ:
- seek to honor them
- be interested in their ideas
- praise the good we see – when appropriate
- pray for them
- encourage them
- smile (not in a flirty way)
- be friendly in appropriate, pure ways
- avoid gossiping about them
- assume the best about them
- speak highly of them
- stand up for them
- encourage other women to respect them
- encourage other women to seek to understand and bless them
- listen to them
- seek to understand their concerns and their masculine perspectives
- extend kindness, grace, mercy, and compassion
- teach younger women to be godly women and wives
- pray for God’s Spirit of unity in the Body, in families and in marriages.
We can treat other men as brothers with total purity. We can guard our hearts. And we can be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our husbands, by allowing God’s love, His heart, and His truth to flow through us to others.
Please note – We are not to “submit” to all men or to all people. In this post we are talking about respect, honor, being friendly, and showing God’s love to others. I don’t want there to be confusion about lumping submission into that. We first submit to Christ – and then to those in God-given positions of authority over us: the government, our boss, church leaders, our parents (when we are underaged children), and husbands (for wives). If any human authority asks us to clearly go against God’s Word, “we must obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:28-29.