May 18, 2014   Ephesians 5:21 – 33  Respect 


       I read this story about a rabbi who was traveling on an airplane and was seated next to an atheist.   Every few minutes one of the rabbi’s children or grandchildren would come to his seat to see if he needed anything - food, drink, something to read.  They’d just come and check on him.   The atheist commented, "The respect your children and grandchildren show you is wonderful.   Mine don’t show me that respect.    "Think about it," the rabbi said.”To my children and grandchildren I am one step closer to the God who created the Hebrews, the God who spoke to us at Sinai.   To yours, you are merely one step closer to the apes."   It is really great how his kids respected him.  How do you think that happens?   Why are some kids respectful while other kids are disrespectful?   God is an important part of respect. 

.     Respect is a very important word for people of all ages and times.  Is there a lack of respect today?   Do children respect their parents today?   Do workers respect their superiors?   Is their respect for our government leaders?    Is there respect in the home between spouses?     It is great when respect is earned.   We all know it is not always earned.   Some folks just do not earn respect.  Some folks are totally disrespectful and it is hard to show them respect.   Sometimes it is hard to respect people because they do not earn it or they live their life in such a way that does not seem to merit respect.      I think all of us could say that it is hard to respect some people.  What can we do about those that are not respectful?   Well that is tough but as I thought about it I think we can pray for them that God would reveal himself and his glory to them.   We do not have to be negative when we pray for others.  We were all created in the image of God even though man sinned and has fallen.   

      Respect is a big word.    God does speak about respect in the bible.   In Leviticus 19 we are told to respect your mother and to respect the elderly.  In Ephesians 5 scripture tells us that the wife must respect her husband.  I like to share both sides of the coin and I Peter 2 tells us to show proper respect to everyone.  That verse does not qualify those to whom we give respect.   I Peter 3 husbands respect your wife as the weaker partner.  Ephesians 6 says obey your earthly masters with respect.   The bible tells us to obey the laws and government and I suppose that respect would be involved with that also.   If government or the laws are against what the bible says we follow the scripture but we should show respect and do that in a way that is not offensive. 

      Malachi 1:6-8 tells us a child honors his father, and a servant honors his master.  God says I am a father, so why don’t you respect me?    I am a master, so why don’t you respect me?    You priests do not respect me?     But you ask, ‘How have we shown you disrespect?’    You have shown it by bringing unclean food to my altar.    But you ask, ‘What makes it unclean?’   It is unclean because you don’t respect the altar of the Lord.    When you bring blind animals as sacrifices, that is wrong.    When you bring crippled and sick animals, that is wrong.   Try giving them to your governor.   Would he be pleased with you?   He wouldn’t accept you,” says the Lord all Powerful…”    If you had someone over to your house that you highly respected you would not pull out that 2 month lettuce that is starting to rot nor would you pull that piece of meat out of the freezer that is 3 or 4 years old.  You would want to do a first class meal for them and you would want everything fresh.  In this case these folks were offering to God the stuff that they wanted least.   It was the lamb who was deformed at birth that was crippled and born blind.   You do not build your flock of sheep by having those sheep produce lambs.   They were picking their offerings to God from the culls of the flock.  They were giving to God their worst and not their best.  They were giving to God a token but not their best.   God knew it and God was not pleased.  They did not respect God.   We are not like that we offer our best to God.   

    As Christians we are to show respect to one another even if we do not always agree on things such as doctrine.  John Wesley and George Whitefield - the two great preachers of the 18th Century Evangelical Revival - were both great men of God.   Sadly having been great friends at Oxford, they fell out over the Armenian/Calvinist debate.    There was quite a bit of animosity between their followers.   Once one of Whitefield’s followers said to him: "We will not see John Wesley in the heaven, will we?"   To which Whitefield humbly replied "Yes, you’re right, we won’t see him in heaven.   He will be so close to the throne of God and we will be so far away, that we won’t be able to see him. !" .  What a lovely attitude Whitefield had.   Despite profoundly disagreeing with Wesley, Whitefield recognized John Wesley as being a man of God.   Indeed the respect for the other was so great that when Whitefield died in the USA, John Wesley preached at George Whitefield’s memorial service in London.   If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are."

       Respect is very important in the home.   According to psychologist William Damon, respect for the parent who exercises proper authority leads to respect for legitimate social institutions and to respect for law. In his book The Moral Child, Damon writes, “The child’s respect for parental authority sets the direction for civilized participation in the social order when the child later begins assuming the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.” Damon calls this respect “the single most important legacy that comes out of the child’s relations with the parent.”          

      Joshua Reich who counsels families on a regular basis writes I will hear from a parent, “My child is disrespectful to me or to my spouse and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Or I’ll hear this from someone, “I can’t seem to connect with my spouse.   We don’t connect sexually.   We don’t connect emotionally or relationally.”  What is going on? I’m about to pull my hair out. I don’t know what to do.

     Joshua says your kid’s reaction to you is a mirror of how they see you react to your spouse.   Here’s an example.   I knew a couple who made fun of each other.   It was how, they would say, they “joked with each other.”   The problem was everything they said to the other person had a little bit of truth in it.   “We are always late because of him or her” (laughter).   “Wow, your husband does that, I wish my husband wasn’t so lazy” (laughter).   “Sweetie, look at what Joe got for Sue.   Remember when you got me a necklace five years ago” (laughter).  “So, you’re the couple that has sex 5 times a week.   I’ve heard about couples like that.   What’s that like?” (laughter).  Those are real lines that Joshua sat and heard a person say in front of their spouse and a group.    Consequently, those aren’t even the worse ones.   Now, each time the whole group laughed (some nervously).    Each time, and don’t miss this: There was truth in each statement.  

     Couples use joking and making fun of their spouse as a way of communicating truth.   Now, this is a destructive and unhealthy way to communicate truth, but nevertheless a powerful way.    The problem is that over time, it is disrespectful, it tears the other down and it does not build oneness in your marriage.  Eventually, the only communication that happens in your marriage is nagging, nitpicking and making fun.   Why?    Because your spouse will reciprocate.    If you have kids, this gets magnified.    Your child will see how you tear down your husband; how you make fun of your wife, and do you know what they will think?   That’s how I communicate to mom or dad.  The respect a child shows a parent will always be less than the respect a husband gives his wife or a wife gives to her husband.   Always.   

     These families are in trouble.  There is great pain in these families.  The kids watch and they learn.  The girls learn that is how men treat women.  So when it is time for her to marry she thinks nothing of marrying a jerk or some guy who is disrespectful to women.  What kids see at home on how families relate is about all they know.  It has been said the greatest gift a father or mother can give to their children is to show them a great marriage where both parents respect each other and support each other and serve each other.   We have a lot of work to do in our homes and in our marriages.  Parents want their children to listen to them respect them and obey them.  Is that modeled in your home?    Children will mimic you.   In a home where there is swearing children will most likely swear.  That happened to me.     If parents do not like how their child relates to them they should consider how they relate to the child because you may be creating that response in them.  .    Parents you set the tone at least in the early years.  In many ways they will amplify you.  

     If you want your children to walk with God you must set the pace.   If you want them to respect God you lead the way.  If you want them to become a man or woman of prayer and of the bible you must lead the way.  If you want your kids to be committed to Christian fellowship you must be committed to Christian fellowship.  Do not look for short cuts.  There are no short cuts.    It is hard work and prayer and God’s grace. 

      Parents need to work together training children.  If the child is disrespectful to a parent then the other parent should correct.  That is not how you treat mommy or daddy.  I watch my grand kids.   If I correct them then they say I want mommy or I want daddy.   Mommy corrects them then they cry I want daddy.  Daddy corrects them and then they want mommy.  Big tears come down their eyes.  God loves people and parents need to communicate that love to their child.  Love is very important in a family.  It is a key foundation to life. 

    I also want to say there are no perfect parents out there.  None of us are perfect.  We can trust in God.  God can give you the tools you need to raise your child or children.  God can give you the love you need to walk in harmony with your spouse and your child.  God can give you the patience you need to for the day and the moments that are trying and difficult.  If you make a mistake it is not the end of the world.  You can confess that to your son or daughter.  
Confession is a great healer when it is done correctly with sincerity.   In those teen years most young adults go through some rebellion.   When 10 more years are added to their life they begin to look at life differently and they can actually express appreciation for how your raised them.   I would hope that you would want your life and family to be a model of respect, love and patience to others around you and to the world. 


Dorothy Law Nolte once wrote down these thoughts…
If a child lives with criticism, He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness, He learns justice.
If a child lives with security, He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, He learns to find love in the world.

Do you believe that if you walk with Jesus your child will not live with hostility etc. and will live with praise etc?