Those standing near Paul [when he spoke harshly to the high priest who had slapped him in the face] said to him, "Do you dare to insult God's high priest?"
"I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was the high priest," Paul replied, "for the Scriptures say, 'You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.'"
— Acts 23:4-5 NLT
Does it seem to you that we have lost respect in modern society for people in the positions that were formerly considered worthy of respect? Positions like president, prime minister, congressional representative, senator, pastor, elder, and missionary are frequently not respected today. We demand that everyone in those positions be worthy of our respect or have earned our respect. If they have not, we do not regard them, or their positions, with respect. The problem with this approach is that all people in such positions are flawed just as we are. We can always find a reason not to respect them. Paul's actions in this story remind us to respect and honor people in positions of respect regardless of their behavior. I don't know about you, but his actions convict me, especially remembering that he knew the high priest was wrong and still apologized. His example drives me to obey the call to respect those in positions of authority. See our Related Scripture Readings below, and remember that passages about respecting people with governmental authority were written when Christians were being persecuted so they certainly apply when we don't agree with the policies of governmental officials.
Father, I confess that I want people to be worthy of my respect, to earn that respect, or I sometimes withhold it regardless of their position. Then, I catch myself whining about others who do not show respect to their position or the position of others. I am thankful for the words and examples of the first followers of Jesus who lived out their faith in such a challenging and often unfair world while doing their best to respect leaders regardless of how fallible or even cruel the leaders were. Holy Spirit, I need your help to discern the proper way to show respect to people in positions worthy of honor even when those people don't display honorable character and behavior. I ask for this help in Jesus' name. Amen.