Everyone wants to be respected, but few know the formula to achieve it. Respect is earned, not given. Learn the Bible way to earn respect and increase your influence for God by being a good steward of your testimony.
1 Timothy 4:12–16
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Young people tend to believe that respect and responsibility come with age. This statement is not valid. Respect and responsibility are earned.
Youth complains, “You don’t trust me.” Wisdom replies, “What have you done to earn it?”You can act in a way that generates respect regardless of age or experience. The opposite is also true. You can behave in a way that causes people to lose respect for you. Click To Tweet
By being faithful in that which is least, we show that people can trust us with that which is great.
God had called Timothy to the Gospel ministry. He was the protege’ of the great Apostle Paul, but he was young. Would people follow his leadership? Would they respect him enough to listen? Through the Spirit’s inspiration, Paul taught Timothy how to overcome the liabilities of youth and earn respect.
Although this passage of Scripture was penned for a young man, the lessons it contains are vital for every adult. Furthermore, due to the breakdown of society, many adults have never grasped the truths that should be learned at a young age.
It is a God-given desire within us all to crave respect. Every man, woman, and child yearns to be admired and appreciated. Yet, with so few teaching the right way to gain respect, many people go about trying to obtain it in the wrong way.
Consider these foolish ways to gain respect.
Some people demand respect. The boss who belittles you while declaring his authority. The undisciplined parent who reminds a child of their position constantly while acting like a child themselves. The brutish husband who makes demands with a harsh or raised voice while not fulfilling his own obligations. The violent gang-banger who puts a gun in your face needs “respect” more than money.
All of these people seek respect by domination. They demand respect “or else.”
Some people seek respect through deception. Rather than becoming a better person, they will feign to be one. Instead of really being a friend, they will play the part to get some temporary respect. Instead of making sacrifices to become spiritual, they play a role in public.
These actors manipulate circumstances and people to their own ends.
Rather than deal with the pain of not getting respect or investing the work to become respectable, some people renounce the desire for respect. They pretend that it doesn’t matter what their parents, peers, or authorities think. They will go their own way and do their own thing no matter what anyone thinks.
At times, they purposefully act un-respectable and hurt themselves so that no one else can cause them pain.
Who do you know that acts in these ways? How do you respond to them? Do their actions make you well up inside with respect for them? Of course, not.
The Bible gives us a formula of how to earn respect despite our age. Let’s meditate upon what the Apostle Paul taught Timothy and learn how to earn respect.
Let (allow) no man despise thee…
Don’t give people a reason to look down on you.
Usually, respect comes with time and experience. Our text verse reminds us that God can use anyone who becomes what they should be.
I began pastoring when I was 27 years old. Occasionally, an older person in our community would ask, “Are you old enough to be a pastor?” I would reply, “I guess so. They are letting me do it.” Then I would lean in and whisper with a smile, “If I’m not old enough, don’t tell anybody.” Usually, they would smile.
There are already so many obstacles to Christian leadership. We mustn’t complicate our testimony with prideful wants or youthful mistakes.
My father-in-law once told me jokingly that people would respect me more as a preacher once I had gray hair. Now that I have some gray hair, I know that he was right.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait to be older to earn respect and make a difference in the world. You can earn respect and acquire responsibility at any age.
The Example of David
David began his journey to greatness when he was a teenager. You don’t need to wait until you are a certain age or attain a specific station until you earn respect. You can begin at any age.
Because of his exploits, David was more respected as a young man more than most older men.
1 Samuel 18:7
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.
David increased in favor with God and man continually.
1 Samuel 18:30
Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.
David purposed in his heart to live wisely. As a result, he was not hindered by his age or experience.
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
If you choose to live in God’s wisdom, you live far beyond your years as you access the experience of God Himself.
You can act in a way that generates respect regardless of age or experience. Not only do you gain respect through wise choices, but God can increase your influence for His work.
“but be thou an example of the believer”
This means “become a pattern.” How do we become a pattern of the believer? Examine your situation. Think about how a mature, respectable, honorable person who loves God would behave. Strive to become that person.
Seek God’s help and empowerment. Decide to put on the new man that was born in us at salvation. Choose to live according to God’s Word in the Power of the Holy Spirit instead of floundering in our flesh.
We put on the new man by doing what Jesus would do if He were in our shoes. Click To Tweet
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
What does the example of a believer look like? It looks like Jesus. You can also ask yourself this question. Ask “What would Jesus Do?” The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus.
Consider the question, “How would the best Christian in the world act?” Do that.
If those seem out of reach, choose a good Christian that you admire and ask what they would do.
As you become the example, you create a pattern for others to follow. This visible transformation earns respect and influence, regardless of your age and experience.
You can act in a way that generates respect regardless of age or experience.
The opposite is also true.
You can behave in a way that causes people to lose respect for you.
Do you know anyone that should be respected but is not? What words or actions cause people to disrespect them?
In our text verses, God gives us six areas to strive for excellence so we can earn the respect of those around us, increase our influence, and make a difference for eternity.
We must strive to be an example of the believer in how we speak. We communicate with each other most often by speaking. If we get that wrong, we can lose our testimony quickly.
Our words are the window to our hearts. They breathe life into people or steal life from them. Our speech gives grace that builds people up or offer poison that tears people down.
Your words are a window into your heart.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
That which you talk about tells people what you think about. Your words reveal the wickedness or righteousness that lies within.
Take great care in how you speak.
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Our words should be with grace. Speak of grace. Make the doctrines of God and His work in the lives of men a common theme in your speech. Also, speak gracefully. Grace sweetens our speech and makes it pleasant to others. The ungodly speak of sins with rough words and unpleasant tones. Christian speech should be refined and charming.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Do your words lift people or bring them down? Do you give life with your tongue, or do you kill and destroy?
Make it a lifelong practice to bring the tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through your words:
- Use kind words and graceful speech.
- Be aware of your tone.
- Never use curse words.
- Don’t use questionable language.
- Don’t use too much slang.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Give your opinion sparingly. Unheeded advice is seldom heeded and often resented.
- Talk about the Bible.
- Talk about God and godly things.
- Ask yourself what Jesus would say? Say that.
This is an old English word that means “behavior.” It speaks of your manner of life.
Your actions speak louder than your words. Make sure your actions are saying what you want to communicate.
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
Your action can display meekness and wisdom or pride and foolishness. A wise man is known by his words and his works.
Even a child is known by his doings,
Whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
Is your manner of life pure? Do you endeavor to live a righteous life? People can tell immediately.
God doesn’t expect you to live a perfect life, but He does expect you to be sincere in your effort to do so.
Do you behave like a Christian? Can someone deduce you belong to God by your lifestyle?
1 Peter 2:12
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Our conversation should be honest and genuine. Our actions should match our beliefs. Live what you say you believe, and God can use your good works to glorify Himself.
People respect those who do what is right. In like manner, we have contempt for the weak and sinful.
Conversation includes appearance too. Don’t be worldly, trendy, or overly focused on your appearance, but make wise choices that generate respect.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through your actions:
- Do the right thing.
- Work harder than expected.
- Be on time and ready to go for whatever task is at hand.
- Beware of your body language. Know what you are saying.
- Control your countenance. Know what you are communicating.
- Represent humble confidence.
- Be willing to help.
- Dress appropriately.
- Be clean. Shave and comb your hair. Groom your beard if you have one.
- Smell good.
- Brush your teeth.
- Don’t bite your fingernails.
- Practice good posture.
- Dress a little above what is required.
- Ask, “What would Jesus Do?”
Charity speaks of God’s love.
Love is the decision to affectionately and unconditionally commit yourself to the needs of another at your expense without thought of return. God’s love is different than all other loves. Agape’ love is not an emotion. It is a commitment. Love is more than a feeling. It is a deep commitment to sacrifice for the benefit of the loved. God loves us, and He teaches us to love others with this divine love.
Charity builds people up.
1 Corinthians 8:1
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Love is a language that everyone understands. Strive to love people until they know it.
1 Timothy 1:5
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Our Lord Jesus condensed every commandment into two that involve love.
If you love God, you will keep His commandments. If you love your neighbor, you will treat them right. Click To Tweet
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Make loving people a priority in your life. Love people eagerly and faithfully.
1 Peter 4:8
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Love focuses on the worth of its object rather than its imperfections.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through love:
- Accept people where they are.
- Encourage them to be more than they are or even think they can be.
- Spread God’s message of love.
- Tell people of your love and appreciation.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Never hold a grudge.
- See the good in people.
- Write notes of love and gratitude.
- Pick people up when they are down.
- Believe in people. They will love you for it.
- Love difficult people.
- Be generous with love and praise.
In the Bible, this word with a little “s” usually speaks of man’s spirit. Often, it means attitude.
Your attitude speaks volumes to those around you. Attitude is the nonverbal speech of the soul. Proverbs has a lot to say about our spirit or attitude. It can be humble or proud; faithful or broken; hasty or calm.
Jesus had an excellent spirit. Daniel had one too. In fact, most of the spiritual people we admire have a godly and excellent spirit.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
How would people describe your spirit? Why not ask God to give you an excellent spirit and strive to exhibit one each day?
Some people are out of control. Rather than control their attitude, they allow their attitude to control them. They are a slave to their thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit Is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
A man without control of his attitude is like an unprotected city in a dangerous area. He is asking for trouble!
Daniel was promoted and preferred because he had an excellent spirit. The same will be true for you.
Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through a good attitude:
- Refuse to have a bad attitude.
- Use your words. Don’t pout or withdraw.
- Don’t lose your temper. Anger is ugly
- Learn to smile often.
- Greet others warmly.
- Look people in the eye.
- Choose to rejoice despite your circumstances.
- Make someone’s day brighter.
- Embody humble confidence. People are drawn to it.
- Seek and destroy any element of pride. Pride is ugly.
- Treat people with respect.
- Don’t make excuses.
- Take responsibility for failures and share the praise for victory.
- Say “I’m sorry” when you are wrong.
- Express gratitude.
- Be merciful.
- Inspire people to be more.
Pray about your attitude every day. Ask God to give you the mind of Christ and an excellent spirit.
Faith is the measure of your personal confidence in God. It is trust in Who God is and reliance upon what He said in His Word without verification by sight or experience. Faith moves God’s hand, makes the unseen a reality and gives us access to the eternal.
Believers respect faith. We are admonished to be not faithless but believing. Trust God in every situation. Let others see the calm assurance and confident action that can only be born in faith. With God’s help, we should strive to display an unshakeable faith!
Christian leaders were chosen out of those who showed tangible faith.
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
The word “faith” in our text verse can also mean “conviction.”
Is your faith in God a passing fancy, or are you committed to Him? Do you believe in Christ, go to church, or live a Christian life because your parents do, or have you personally committed to Jesus Christ as YOUR Lord?
Do you live your life based on what others have told you, or do you know what the Bible says for yourself?
Everyone has convictions. They are things that you believe with all your heart and will suffer to keep them. Anyone with Bible convictions earns respect from their friends and even their enemies.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through Faith:
- Obey God openly.
- Explain your faith.
- Witness to the lost and seek to win souls.
- Tell others of your confidence in God.
- Know what you believe and why you believe it.
- Exhort others in the faith.
- Don’t be a doubter.
- Encourage other Christians to believe in God.
- Confess your faith in Christ publically.
- Give public testimonies.
- Hold to your convictions when it is difficult.
- Live by faith, not by sight.
Purity is of great value. Multitudes are defiled with immorality and fleshly lusts. You stand out from the crowd when you are pure.
God is holy. Christ was pure. Reject the filthiness of the world and flesh.
God wants you to be pure in mind, heart, and body. Sexual desire is a natural part of God’s plan. However, sex outside of marriage is a sin. Satan works to destroy purity and virtue. Purity is still important to God! If you are unmarried, save yourself for your future spouse. If you have already committed fornication, ask God for forgiveness now, and decide to honor God until you are married starting now.
Married couples are not immune to the devices of satan. How many marriages are rocked by infidelity? How many married people struggle with pornography? How many families have been shattered by adultery? Being married doesn’t make you immune to sinful seduction and lustful desires. Married people must still resolve to have pure hearts and minds.
Some sins have more pull when you are younger. Beware of them and conquer them through Christ.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Treat women with the utmost respect. They are someone’s daughter, not the object of your lust.
1 Timothy 5:2
The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Acknowledge that premarital sex of all forms is sin.
1 Thessalonians 4:3–7
3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
To avoid fornication, Abstain from physical contact with the opposite gender before you are married.
1 Corinthians 7:1
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Endeavor to have a pure heart before God. Don’t entertain sinful thoughts or lustful fantasies. Eventually, thoughts turn into actions.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Here are some practical tips to earn respect through Purity:
- Seek and destroy every instance of impurity in your heart and mind.
- Look at a woman’s face, not her body.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
- Don’t stir up the flesh by watching or listening to impure entertainment.
- Reject so-called friends who are encouraging immorality.
- Don’t entertain sinful fantasies.
- Treat every girl as a sister or a mother.
- Treat every boy as a brother or a father.
- Save yourself for your spouse. No sex until marriage.
- Set up protections in your life.
- Live by Biblical standards to protect you on your worst days.
- Have an accountability partner.
- Confess your sins regularly.
- Remove from your life the people, places, and things that tempt you or give you an opportunity to sin.
You can act in a way that generates respect regardless of age or experience. Also, you can behave in a way that causes people to lose respect for you. The choice is yours.
Strive for excellence in these six areas to earn the respect of those around you, increase your influence, and make a difference for eternity.