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Remember Respect?

November 2012
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“Are you walking around thinking that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here?” Sometimes I think that’s become a lifestyle for many folks living in America today. It’s actually a line from the 1971 song titled, Respect Yourself by the Staple Singers (You Tube video and lyrics below).

Dictionary.com defines respect as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability; the condition of being esteemed or honored.”

W-O-W . . . I haven’t seen much of that attribute around lately, have you?

“Rights” and “personal freedom” have replaced respect in our society today (just read the comment made by METALheadMom at SodaHead.com if you need an example–and most of us don’t as we experience it on a regular basis). And an attitude of disrespect is not respective to age. No, kids right on through to old people have an amazing capacity in our society to disrespect others. I can’t tell you how many women have barged into me lately (okay, it’s not huge but enough . . .) in a grocery store (and yes, right in my own personal space and literally–and intentionally–bumping into me or grabbing something off a shelf right in front of my face) without even saying a word. Some of them have even been little old ladies. And no apology, either, or an insincere one at that . . . .

You have your examples, too. I don’t need to give you any more of mine. That list is endless (yours and mine) . . . . All we have to do is get behind the wheel of our car and get in traffic to experience disrespect. It even has a name . . . road rage(the term originated in the United States–specifically in California–in 1987-1988 according to Wikipedia.com). I used to think that the high level of disrespect we show each other in our society might be a perception on my part because I was getting older and noticed it more. NOT . . . . Not even close.

Disrespect is out there everywhere today. Just look at all the garbage about people that the media publishes that is considered “news” today. It’s voyeurism at best, and nasty at it’s core at the very least. But, inquiring minds want to know, right? RIGHT? That kind of “news” sells big time in our society nowadays. We’d rather hear about an affair (and give us the details, please) of some politician or public figure or movie/rock star then concern ourselves with the human tragedies going on over in Syria, Libya, and many other parts of the world. Ours is now a Google world with massive amounts of information available 24/7 on just about any imaginable (and beyond imaginable, too) topic–not all bad, mind you–but it’s there if you want it. However, that’s another topic for another time.

Getting back to the issue of respect, Bell123 asked this question on Ask.com: “Why are people so mean now days? Whatever happened to respect and treating others as you want to be treated?” Two of the responses were (1) “It’s the Internet–no face to face contact so people lose respect for others and think words on a keyboard have no consequences,” and (2) “Many children aren’t taught decency, manners and respect anymore and the results can last for the rest of their lives. Longtime teachers have remarked how the current generation of children are significantly less respectful than previous generations. It all comes down to a lack of self-discipline. People aren’t taught how to control themselves, and the resulting selfishness makes them feel entitled to hurt other people.”

While I agree that both of these answers hit the nail on the head regarding some aspects concerning the level of disrespect we find in our society today, it isn’t confined to those two groups–internet users or young people. It permeates every ethnic, racial, gender, religious affiliation, and age group from 0-100.

Ephesians 5 & 6 has a lot to say about showing proper behavior towards others and starts right off with “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1-2). It admonishes us to “wake up from our sleep” and “walk in love.” Regarding our relationships with others, we are told that “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another” (5:21, MSG) and it goes on to tell us how to relate to others in the specific roles we find ourselves in such as wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants (e.g., employees), masters (e.g., employers) and with ourselves (5:21-33; 6:1-9). I’ll let you read it for yourself.

The bottom line is this–for those of us who call ourselves “Christian” showing a lack of respect to anybody (including those who are disrespectful to us and, yes, that includes our enemies–and it also includes our fellow Christians) is not an option. There is no reason big enough for us to disdain others. And do you know why? Because it’s not about us.

Let’s read the last part of Ephesians 6 to get a crystal clear picture of what this life is all about as Christians. It’s a fight to the finish, or have we forgotten that? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

For the true follower of Jesus Christ that is what this life is all about, folks. It’s about Him, and we are in a spiritual war to the finish line. I like how The Message Bible states Eph. 6:10-12: “. . . and that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”

“This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps . . . .” Yes, it’s for keeps, folks. Everything that we do or say or act out matters. Every single day we have the opportunity to influence every single person we come into contact with by our actions, words, and our attitudes, for good or for evil. Do we want our own way more than we want to show the love of Christ, even to our enemies and those who disrespect us? Nobody’s perfect and we all fall short in our interactions with others, but does Jesus Christ really make a difference in our lives? If He does, the way He wants us to interact with others should shine through. If it doesn’t, who do we really belong to?

If we don’t like the level of disrespect in our society, then let’s start changing it today by showing everyone we come in contact with (yes, the good, the bad, the disrespectful, and the ugly) that Jesus Christ really does make a different in this world, because He’s made a difference in us, and He can make a difference in them, too. The world is watching us to see if what we say we believe we really do believe . . .

 . . . and live it out. 

I’ll end this post with the words to the song, Respect Yourself (YouTube video below):

If you disrespect anybody
That you run into
How in the world do you think
Anybody’s supposed to respect you?

If you don’t give a heck about the man
With the Bible in his hand
Just get out the way
And let the gentleman do his thing

You the kind of gentleman
That want everything your way
Take the sheet off your face, boy
It’s a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself

If you’re walking ’round
Think’n that the world
Owes you something
‘Cause you’re here

You goin’ out
The world backwards
Like you did
When you first come here

Keep talkin’ ’bout the president
Won’t stop air pollution
Put your hand on your mouth
When you cough, that’ll help the solution

Oh, you cuss around women
And you don’t even know their names
And you dumb enough to think
That’ll make you a big ol man

Respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself
Respect yourself, respect yourself

NOW LET’S GOES OUT AND RESPECT OTHERS, TOO!!!

YouTube Video: “Respect Yourself” (1971) by the Staple Singers:

Photo credit here

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1 Comment

  1. mary green says:

    good one sara!

    Like

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