Published on Jun 7th, 2017 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0

Respect I was recently thinking about certain words that I used to hear a lot when I was young but don’t hear as often now. Twinky, record (lp), Kick-the-can, rubber legs (don’t ask) were just a few. One that stuck out amongst the rest was the word “respect”. I used to hear that word a great deal when I was young. It was drilled into my head that I needed to respect my elders, teachers, police officers, my pastor, my siblings, my neighbors, and everyone else. Respect was not limited to simply persons. I was to respect the church by not running in its halls, the flag by standing at attention and never letting it hit the ground, the Bible by not throwing it into the back seat of my car, and my school desk by not carving my initials into it. I was told that it was disrespectful to my mom when I complained about how I did not like dinner. It was also disrespectful to my dad who worked hard to provide for my needs. I remember a time when one of my teachers was obviously in over her head and blatantly boring but I was told that even if my teacher was boring that I still needed to respect the office that she held and that I needed to act in accord with that respect. It just seemed that everything we did or did not do reflected something to do with respect.

I am not sure we still feel the same way. Maybe it is because so many of those people that we have been taught to respect have proven to be so unworthy of respect. We feel we need to protect our children from blindly respecting those who can take that gift given and use it to harm our children. We also did not grow up like our parents did. We live in a society more prone to simply throwing things away. You do not expect purchases you make to last more than a few years and so you learn to use, abuse and discard. Authority is also a word that we hear very little of today. While we strive to communicate that everyone’s opinions and thoughts are equally important we have lost the idea that someone eventually needs to make a final decision and we need to respect that person and their decision.

I find it so interesting that in our quest as a society to be tolerant of all people, thoughts, and ideas that we have almost lost the concept of being respectful of those with whom we disagree. Because we so quickly want to shout “tolerance” we stop listening to each other. When we stop listening, we stop trying to understand each other. When we do not understand each other we stop respecting each other. Then, when your disagreement effects my life in some way I have no basis of respect to be inconvenienced by you and so I lash out at you and desire to destroy any ideas that you have that inconvenience my autonomous way of living. I, for one, will take you understanding me over you tolerating me. Respect me enough to listen to me and then if we disagree you will at least know me better.

The Bible uses some other words that might help us here. Honor, love, and humility are just a few. Here is one of my favorites from Philippians 2, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”. I don’t want to see my times of disrespect as selfish ambition or placing myself above other people but in reality that is exactly what they are. There is no caveat here for those whom we deem not worthy of our respect. In fact, this verse is in the midst of those famous verses that share with us the humility of Christ. No one was ever treated worse by more people who were not worthy of respect than Jesus. Yet, we are told to have his mind and to treat others better than ourselves.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where we must teach our children to be on guard, we have leaders who are not worthy of respect, and we have plenty of everything. But just because it may be harder to teach respect does not mean that it should not be a word that we use often. When we constantly gripe about other drivers, our boss, our political leaders, and religious elders we live a life of disrespect in front of our children. When we take the mistakes of those who are in places of authority over our children and magnify them so that our children are allowed to disrespect them we set our children up for lives of anger and hardship. Respect is a virtue that is designed to protect our hearts. Respect brings us dignity and gives God great glory. Let us live today in a conscious effort to respect.

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