Respect what is right
Respect what is right in the sight of all men. – Romans 12:17
Romans 12:17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
1 My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
2 If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
3 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.
4 Then, you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
11 My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.
Rodney Dangerfield was born in Babylon, New York. His given name was Jacob Cohen. Soon after Dangerfield’s birth, his father abandoned the family. Consequently, he became a victim of the absent father syndrome and grew up “unloved and unwanted.” His iconic catchphrase was born, “I Don’t Get No Respect.” The one-liner was his response to a difficult upbringing. It was his way of saying, “No one liked me.”
The phrase eventually cemented Dangerfield’s self-deprecating place in the world of comedy. He got his first big break, performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1970s. Dangerfield then began to appear regularly on The Dean Martin Show and the Tonight Show. His “no respect” bit was the highlight of his routines.
“Respect, also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important or held in high esteem or regard. It conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities” (Wiki). When Dangerfield died in October 2004, he had undoubtedly gained the respect he sought.
When we are wrongly treated, how are children of the King supposed to respond? The impulse of fallen DNA is to return injury for injury. However, this is not an appropriate response for the children of the King. Instead, we are “to be careful to do what is honorable in the sight of everyone” (Mounce).
But how do we know what is right and honorable? Emmanuel Kant asserted that a universal moral code or order exists regarding how life ought to be lived. This has been referred to as an innate sense of “oughtness.” For Kant, the only good thing in and of itself is “goodwill.” Kant reasoned that people have a sense of moral obligation to help others in need.
While this is logically possible, societal “moral codes” are often skewed and out of focus. Some question whether there is a universal consensus on what is good, right, and proper. This is all the more true as society descends into moral chaos. Does Paul intend for the children of the King to allow nonbelievers to set the standards for their behavior? Of course not.
Instead, what Paul is opting for children of the King are to live out the essence of the gospel. Society does not determine our standards of right and wrong or what is morally fitting. But instead, our standards are determined by the truth of Scripture. What are the standards for the children of the King?
The Lord Jesus Christ set the bar pretty high.
39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
40 If you are sued in court, and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.
41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.
42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
43 You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor” and hate your enemy.
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
REFLECT & PRAY
“Doing good to all is something to be planned and not just willed” (Käsemann).
Father help me to anticipate ill-treatment and be prepared to respond appropriately in a fashion that honors You.
The Greek word translated as respect is pronoeo. Pronoeo means to foresee, have regard, or respect. Pronoeo is derived from pro – before and noeo – to think or comprehend. It connotes the idea of thinking about something ahead of time so one can respond appropriately.
The various nuances of pronoeo are seen in the multiple translations.
Romans 12:17 Respect what is right in the sight of all men. (NAS)
Romans 12:17 Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (ESV)
Romans 12:17 Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. (NLT)
Romans 12:17 Consider what is good before all people. (NET)
Romans 12:17 Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. (NIV)
Romans 12:17 Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. (CSBO)
“We should, then, take Paul’s words at face value: he wants us to commend ourselves before non-Christians by seeking to do those ‘good things’ that non-Christians approve and recognize. There is, of course, an unstated limitation to this command, one that resides in the word ‘good’ itself” (Moo).
“The Greek term translated as good is kala. Kala “is one of the two words which the Greeks have of describing that which is good, agathosreferring to intrinsic goodness, and kalos, our word here, to exterior goodness, or goodness that is seen on the exterior of a person, the outward expression of an inward goodness . . .” (Wuest). Our outward expression of goodness is intended to conform to our inward goodness and reality.
“But if the Christian assumes an outward expression which is patterned after this age, that expression not representing what he is, a child of God, but giving the beholder the impression that he is a person of the world, that expression is a dishonest one” (Wuest).
What we do as children of the King is observed by those around us. Our conduct, which is open to “the eyes of everybody.” It must represent the goodness of our Father and honor Him.
“The main point is that, instead of reciprocating evil for evil, we should think out ahead of time how we will respond when others attack us or wrong us in some way. By taking forethought, we can be ready to respond aright, with “good things,” i.e., in such a way that we bear impressive witness before the world” (Jack Cottrell).
1 Peter 2:12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
© Dr. H 2022