In Ephesians 5:33, the apostle Paul wrote, “each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
As God does not command things that are unnecessary, we can then infer that a woman has a need to feel loved (which no one ever disputes); but in the same token, we must then conclude that a man has a need to feel respected. And of course, the man’s need for respect has been largely glossed over by many throughout history, including in the church.
That’s why it was extremely refreshing to hear recently from a pastor who was beginning to connect the dots between scripture’s command to respect the husband and the God in whose image all men are created:
I am a pastor who was recently introduced to the Love and Respect seminar. After watching the DVDs I was stunned with the realization of how deep and strong the desire for respect has been a part of my thinking, life, and relationships. . . .
As I pondered over the things I heard I wanted to get this question settled: “Is the desire for respect hardwired into the male heart by God, as Emerson teaches, or by our sinful nature?” Talking it over with another pastor friend, we came to the conclusion that Emerson’s position is indeed correct, that it is hardwired into us by God. Corrupted by sin, but nevertheless placed there by Him. This led to a series of conclusions that has completely shifted my view of God and relationship with Him:
- The male heart has been wired by God with a deep core desire for respect, and is not something that we should “repent” from.
- We have been created in God’s image. There is therefore a deep core desire in God’s heart for respect or reverence.
- Because this is in God’s nature, and because it is put in me by Him, the desire for respect is a good thing, a godly thing, and one that should be pursued.
Of course I wholeheartedly agree with this pastor. In Malachi 1:6, God says, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?” God has a deep core desire for respect; we have been created in God’s image; therefore, we too have a deep core desire for respect. But this poses some questions, as the pastor continued by asking:
If the desire for respect is to be pursued, how do we conduct ourselves in order to gain the greatest respect? As with anything else we seek in life, we will find the greatest fulfillment as we embrace the Lord’s heart and walk in His ways. Pursuing respect is no different.
In addition, if I am to ultimately find everything I need in God Himself, how do I get the desire for respect met in/from Him? How can I expect to be respected by the God of Genesis 1 when I have such weakness in my affections and maturity? I know He loves me, but I also know you can love someone without respecting them. How do I get that need met and be assured that God respects me?
The pastor concluded:
While reading my Bible one day after this discussion I came across a verse in Isaiah 66:2, which says, “But this is the one to whom I will look [have regard toward/have respect for]: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
All of a sudden the light came on. I saw the answer is that the Lord Himself, the Creator, has respect (regard) for those who embrace and walk in humility, as He Himself does. Once I started looking at scripture through that lens I began to see that in many other places the Lord expresses His attention to, and respect for, the man or woman who walks in humility.
Seeing this has energized my will to embrace humility in a way that I hadn’t seen before. It is now the way to find joy and pleasure in my relationship with God, rather than a rule to live by. It is the only unshakable place to get the need for respect met in my heart, and it has set me free from having to demand it from the people around me, and be swallowed in self-pity when I don’t get it.
I applaud this gentleman for thinking about these things and turning to Scripture for answers.
Yes, his discovery is accurate. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 18:14, “he who humbles himself will be exalted.” James makes clear it is God who does this. “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).
Humility, not hubris, leads to respect, honor, and exaltation from God. How God does this is up to Him but He promises to do this. This is no marginal issue.
In John 5:44 Jesus says, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”
Can you believe that Jesus Himself urges us to seek glory from God?
Yet, in the church people don’t know what to do with such texts. They tend to skim over them until they find passages related to God’s love, and the like. However, a quick search in the Bible for the word love shows the count to be at 311. A search for the word glory adds up to 331.
Yes, we are to seek love from God but we are to seek glory from God as well.
Why have some of us overlooked this? One possible reason is that with the feminization of the church, her need for love dominates what we see in Scripture, whereas his need for respect falls by the wayside as an egotistical thing. This is why this pastor struggled with even thinking about this. The biblical ideas of respect, honor, exaltation, and glory seemed wrong or marginal.
But God made us male and female to reflect His image. We are to love God but we are to respect and glorify God as well. We are to seek love from God, but we are also to seek glory from God. But from an emotional standpoint, few can grasp what the glory from God looks like on a daily basis.
But back to the pastor’s view, not only does humility lead to exaltation, when we actively seek to honor God, He honors us. We read in 1 Samuel 2:30, “. . . the Lord declares, ‘. . . for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.”
Those who serve Christ will be honored. Jesus said in John 12:26, “if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
We need to get ready for this because of what is coming on the Final Day!
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “wait until the Lord comes who will . . . disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” Some of us will hear the very praise of God to us about us! This is mindboggling.
Peter remarks in 1 Peter 1:7 our “faith” will “be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” He doesn’t say anything about love.
So, what’s the point of all this?
On the one hand, God will love and honor us throughout eternity because of who He is, not because of who we are. This happens not because of the goodness in us but because of the goodness in God. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we will experience the love and glory of God throughout eternity. There is no way we can buy this or earn this. It is a free gift. In that sense, it is unconditional. There is no condition that we could meet to merit this.
On the other hand, when we humble ourselves, honor God, serve Christ, live with good motives, and actively trust the Lord, this results in the Lord saying, “Well done!” and we receive a measure of honor, glory, and praise because of what we have done.
We might say 95 percent is God but 5 percent is due to us, though this is a metaphor.
When it comes to this pastor’s self-discovery, there are a number of applications.
For the wife reading this, God calls her to put on respect and honor toward her husband not because of her husband’s goodness but because of her goodness. This is about who she is, not about who her husband fails to be.
For the husband reading this, demanding respect from your wife misses the point completely. If you are to exert any effort it isn’t in requiring of her to respect you but for you to walk in humility before her, to honor her as a fellow heir of the grace of life even when she fails to do this toward you, to serve her as best you can, maintain good motives toward her, and to trust her goodwill. Do that and I predict she’ll eventually soften and show you more respect.
If not, if she is a contemptible woman no matter what you do; therefore, please grasp that God will honor you for the reasons stated and a Day is coming when the suffering you endured in this painful marriage will be met with Christ Himself praising you, honoring you, exalting you, and glorifying you. He will do so because He designed you to need this, as you need His love. In the meantime, do your 5 percent.
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