Recently I was reading something that my great-uncle wrote a long time ago. It was short – just a handwritten page and a half – but his words impressed me a lot. He wrote that the things his parents had taught him that he was most grateful for were love and respect – for others and for God.
From everything I’ve heard about him, my great-uncle really embraced those teachings from his parents. The impression he made on others with his genuine concern and kindness has been powerful, even up to the present day, even though he was killed in Vietnam over 52 years ago. Those who knew him, even briefly, still remember that love and respect he showed to everyone.
My great-uncle was clearly taught well about love and respect by his parents, but I think the reason he was also so successful in showing love and respect to others is that he learned from Christ’s example. Christ’s example of love and respect was so significant that it has persisted for 2,000 years. His example still stands for us to follow today.
Christ’s Example of Love
Christ is well-known for the love He showed because it went beyond typical love. He spent time with those who were unwelcome and different. He healed, He lifted, and He offered another way of life. He saw each individual behind the disease, the torment, and the sin. Christ never held back His love.
Sometimes, His love showed in other ways. Jesus went out of His way to speak and teach the truth, even when it was uncomfortable to hear.
A good example of this is the rich young man who came to Jesus, asking what he needed to do to receive eternal life. He already followed the commandments, but he felt there was more he needed to do. Jesus directed him to sell and give away all he had, then follow Him.
That young man “went away sorrowful” because the answer he received wasn’t the answer he wanted. But it was a truthful answer and one that Christ gave because He knew that telling the young man the truth was the best way to love him in that moment.
Christ also showed love by teaching and encouraging repentance. Christ showed love to everyone, whether they had repented or not, but He knew that repenting would bring us greater joy than living in disobedience, sin, and struggles would. Simply turning to Christ completely changed the lives of so many people He met and still does change lives today.
Christ’s love has many facets to it, and we ought to try and live each of those facets ourselves. Some things may be easier for us than other things, and that’s okay. We aren’t perfect, but the little steps of trying to live with Christ-like love will change our hearts and make a difference in the lives of others around us.
Christ’s Example of Respect
Christ valued respect. The most obvious example of this is in Christ’s relationship with our Father in Heaven. Always, Christ defers to the authority and power of our Heavenly Father, no matter what the circumstances are. From expressing gratitude to submitting His will, Christ never put Himself above our Father. Instead, He respected Heavenly Father’s authority in all things.
You can also see how Christ showed respect in other ways. For example, He showed respect for the law of the land and the law of His religion when He responded to the question about paying tribute. The laws exist for a reason, and so long as they didn’t contradict the commandments of God, Christ was willing to follow them.
Finally, Christ showed respect to all the people He met. It didn’t matter to Him if they were powerful leaders or beggars on the street. He recognized them as children of God, and He showed them respect because of this. That respect also stemmed from the love He felt for each of those people.
Respect and love go hand in hand. Together, they can expand and empower each other. We can reach and care for so many people around us when we show them love and respect, regardless of who they are or what their situation is.
It is possible to show love and respect the way Christ did. Like my great-uncle who set such a powerful example in his life of following Christ’s example, we can work to make Christ-like love and respect part of our natures. We may not do so perfectly, but our efforts will be expanded through His power. And the more we make the effort to show this kind of love and respect, the more natural it will become. He will guide us in our efforts.