Basically, every conversation came down to whether or not someone had earned the right to be respected. Truth be told, I subscribed to that view for a long time, and still think that way on occasion, even though I know better.
Today on Facebook, I saw this, and it resonated with me.
|The Golden Rule of Respect?|
Romans 12:10 tells us to love one another with brotherly affection, while Philippians 2:3 admonishes us to count others as more significant than ourselves. Neither of them includes an "if they've earned it" or "if you like them" codicil. We are commanded to love and give everyone honor (1 Peter 2:17).
Perhaps the most forceful passage about respecting everyone equally is found in James 2:1-9. James has some very strong words for us in regards to showing partiality to those that are rich or powerful, while shunning the poor and the weak. This applies as well, I think, to showing respect and extending courtesies. (For an excellent treatment of this passage, I would recommend to you this sermon from Dr. Corey Abney.)
In short, it comes down to one very simple truth. We are all children of God, created in His image, and we have all fallen short of His glory. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, "as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."
So, we show respect not just because of their character or our character, but because of His character in us.