Herod made a deal with Rome. In exchange for his good governance of Judea, he looked to Caesar Augustus and Marc Antony to provide him with an identity, progress, and fortune.

I think it’s worth looking at these three characteristics over the next three days, so we can realize what a crap deal that actually was.

Herod was a non-Jew who grew up enmeshed in Jewish politics. That’s hardly a winning scenario for self-esteem, friendship, and peer regard. By agreeing to remove the problem of Judean management from an increasingly irritated Roman government, Herod hoped to win respect among Caesar’s aristocracy. He believed that success in Judea would translate to social success in Rome.

He was wrong.

By all accounts, Herod was a very successful politician and he did bring the greatest era of peace to the region since the last peaceable days of the Seleucid Empire.

But neither the Romans or the Jews ever loved him.

In fact, Caesar Augustus often made sport of Herod in front of the Roman Senate. Herod would have prized Caesar’s regard above all honors, yet Augustus was known to tease, mock, and publicly humiliate the ‘King of the Jews.’

Caesar’s favorite game was to jumble the meaning and pronunciation of Greek words. Hus and huios were his ‘go-to’ line, and they actually translate quite well in English. Herod refused to eat pork. Herod suspected several of his sons of political espionage and had them killed. As a result, Caesar claimed it was safer to be Herod’s sow than his son (safer to be his hus than his huios).

Herod made a huge grab for power and got it, but he never gained the respect he wanted.

You can’t buy respect. It has to be earned.

Respect can’t be doled out as a prize. It will always be taken away in jest by those who refuse to see you rewarded.

You cannot hope to garner respect by sucking up to those in power above you. They will never surrender their power–especially not their social power–just because you’re nice enough, or you’ve done enough, or you think it’s your turn.

Those kinds of delusions are juvenile, and yet we persistently believe them.

But no one will ever respect you until you learn to respect yourself.

Start by acting honorably, charitably, and selflessly. See where that takes you.

And if that fails, take it one step further and stop murdering your children, betraying your countrymen and avoiding the other white meat.