Dignity and respect for Humanity

The Golden RuleHow we treat other people is vitality important. Jesus told us to ‘love our neighbour’. Love includes dignity and respect. Love in a marriage would quickly die if both partners did not respect each other and treat the other with dignity.

Jesus’ teaching addresses how we should respond to people who make us angry, people who we could despise, people who are violent towards us, people who are in need and people who make us their enemy. He taught us to keep short accounts with others and not to judge.


Jesus always gets to the heart of the matter. Anger hurts us and hurts other people. Ultimately, anger can lead to murder. We are encouraged to deal with any anger we may have towards our fellow-man.

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment’. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:21-22)


Contempt for other people is damaging to human relationships. It is often present in racism, or prejudice against minorities. Despising people different to ourselves, Jesus said, creates a barrier between us. Loving others means that there is no place for contempt in our attitudes.

People often call a person a fool if in their arrogance they consider themselves superior, or more competent, or if people disagree with them. Years ago, when I was involved in local politics, it was so easy to describe the ‘opposition’ as idiots, simply because they had a different point of view, or outlook on life. I had to learn to treat people ‘on the other side’ with dignity and learn to respect them.

Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’ (a term of contempt), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:22)


Reconciliation is the key to God’s relationship with us and is vital too in our relationships with other people. If someone has something against us, it is always down to us to do something about it. Whether what they have against us is real or imaginary, whether it is our fault or theirs, we are responsible, and need to go to them, and put things right.

Reconciliation with our fellow-man must take place alongside seeking God. seeking his forgiveness and seeking reconciliation with him.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Judging Others

Jesus said quite plainly that we should not judge other human beings. Judging could be active, verbal or in our thoughts. If we do judge others we will be judged in the same way. The measure that we use in judging others will be used against us. If we condemn another for some actions and then go and do the same things, we condemn ourselves.

It is a great pity that, generally speaking, Christians are perceived as judgemental. Sometimes it is not true, but often it is true. What a great pity that those who claim forgiveness from God, are so unforgiving and judgemental to others.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

If we are serious about following Jesus we try to live by the high standards that he sets. We then need to particularly careful not to apply those high standards to other people. The teaching that Jesus gave about giving to the poor, praying and fasting is particularly relevant here.

Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. (Matthew 6:1)


I would love to have seen the expression on Jesus’ face when he talked about how we can’t see clearly because of the plank in our eye. I think there was a twinkle and people probably laughed, but the point went straight home.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

How dare a person stand up for the rights of an unborn child, but fail to do anything about living children, dying for lack of clean water or adequate health care. How dare an unfaithful husband pass judgement upon a same-sex relationship. How dare we judge someone who is depressed without knowing and understanding what they are going through.

Golden Rule

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Jesus summed all this beautifully in what has become known as the golden rule. It is an ethic common to most belief systems. So:

  • Do you want to avoid the anger of others: avoid being angry.
  • Do you want to be treated with dignity: treat others with dignity.
  • Do you want to be respected: respect others and do not despise them or treat them with contempt.
  • Seek reconciliation with people who hold something against you.
  • Are you hurt when people judge you: do not judge other people.
  • Do you want to be treated with dignity: treat others with dignity.
  • Are others condemned by your lifestyle: be sure not to parade your ‘righteousness’.
  • Examine your own life before trying to put others right.

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

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