Living Lessons: Our GiftBy: Christopher Wiles
"R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me." Aretha Franklin attracted droves of followers with these lyrics in her passionate pop plea for honorable treatment. As you look through Aretha's 1967 lyrics, you do indeed find out her meaning of respect. Respect seems to be giving Mrs. Franklin her "propers" for the fact that she's worked hard for her spouse. Respect is being maritally faithful in extracurricular activities for this icon's lover. Respect to Aretha even entails honesty. As we endeavor to find out what this modern broad term of respect means to Aretha, it begins to be defined much the same as another word that shows up frequently in the Bible.
HONOR & RESPECT - Biblical honor means to give something weight, attention, priority, nobility, or richness; much like the way we use the word "respect," today. Honor is something we typically give to our parents, spouses, and leaders, but Jesus came to show us a better way. In the Bible we are told not only to "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man," (Lev 19:32a) and "Honor your father and mother,” (Eph6:2a) but we are also told, "Honor everyone." (1 Pet 2:17a)
Back in the day, when I knew everything and was convinced I was the smartest on my Facebook friends list, I didn't think going to funerals and visitations was a worthwhile endeavor. For a young, smart, strong, strapping lad like myself, I didn't believe I had anything to offer a family who was grieving and I especially didn't have anything to offer anyone who had already passed away. In that moment, I couldn't teach them math, preach a sermon, fix their car, or build a picnic table. There was nothing I could give from my naive perspective. I'm glad today to say that Jesus has shown me what I have to offer.
Jesus came to show us that EVERYONE deserves our honor and respect. In our culture, it is a gift deserved by all but given by few. While at the funeral for Meredith Myers this past week, I realized, that not everyone in that packed church building knew Meredith, but they all had something to give to her and her family. Very few had any words to say to family that hadn't already been said. Very few could have an active part in the service or burial that would make a significant impact. Yet each of us was there giving a gift and collectively making a difference in the life of this family. We stood then walked by in honor while the family remained sitting at the close of the service. We quietly stood out of respect while the pall bearers bore the casket to the cemetery. Our simple presence and the acts of standing, of giving this moment weight, of making this time a priority, of treating Drew's deceased mother with nobility, of showing our undivided attention, was a gift of HONOR and RESPECT. Yes, this day we have something to offer to someone who deserves it.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, this is what it means to me.
"Show proper respect to everyone." (1 Peter 2:17a NIV)
"Honor everyone." (1 Peter2:17a ESV)