By Dennis C. Abernathy
I am sure that a great many are aware mat we live in a time that is not characterized with respect. We see this “lack of respect” on every hand and in every facet of life. The word “respect” simply means, “to consider worthy of esteem” and carries with it the idea of deferential regard and honor. I certainly do not pretend to know all the reasons for this general lack of respect (although I do have some ideas on the subject), but I certainly can suggest some areas wherein there is a crying and pressing need for respect. Consider the following:
1. There is a Pressing Need for Respect for God. There are many today who do not even believe in God, much less, respect Him. “God that made the world and all things therein . . . . . seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things . . . . . For in him we live, and move, and have our being . . . . . For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:24-28). Do most people recognize these things? No! With most, it is as it was with Israel of old. They have forsaken God. “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). Listen to the language of many today. God’s name, used in vain, is no uncommon thing. Look at many of the TV commercials and see the profane use made of God and those things that pertain to Him. Visit many worship (?) services of the Lord’s church today and notice how respectful (?) many are. Have we lost sight of the honor and respect that is due our Creator? For shame! “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psa. 89:6-7).
2. There is a Pressing Need for Respect for God’s Word. There was a time when people, for the most part, were willing to go to God’s Word and see what He said on any matter. They may have disagreed over the meaning of a passage, but not that it was from God Almighty. If an individual has respect for the word of God, he will receive it as such. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). What the word of God says should end all argument, that is, if we respect that word! A proper respect for the word of God will lead one to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter. 2:11), without any addition or subtraction. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may kept the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2, 12:32). Further we read in Rev. 22:1819, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophesy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
But is there this respect for the word of God by the majority of folk? Nay, there is not! Man has added and he has subtracted to suit his own fancy. The Book says we are saved by faith (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16) but man comes along and says that we are saved by faith “only.” The Book says “not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24); man says that it is by “faith only” and that it “is a very wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort.” The Book says we are to sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Man, in his wisdom, comes along and says, “Lo we want to sing and play upon instruments. The Book says, “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Man comes along and says it is “impossible for one to fall.” The Book attributes for itself completeness and perfection (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jas. 1:25;, but man comes along and says we must have the Spirit operate upon our heart first so that we can then understand the Word. The Book says the gospel is God’s power to save, but man (even our own brethren) comes along and uses every gimmick, scheme, and trick in the old denominational book to get people into the number. You notice, that I say “number” and not the “body of Christ.” It is impossible to get people into the body of Christ through these means. Are we drawing people to Christ through the puppet shows, magic tricks, youth retreats, prizes on the buses, etc.? Jesus said, “Ye seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled” (Jn. 12:26). As long as the loaves and fishes held out they would follow Jesus. As long as the gimmicks hold out many today will follow. But Paul said the gospel is the power to save (Rom. 1:16). He told Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16). Of course some brethren make their distinction between “gospel” and “doctrine” and try and say Paul was all wrong about it anyway.
What has happened? I will tell you what has happened! In the mad rush to keep up with the denominational world and society in general, many have lost respect for the Word of God. The doctrines, commandments, and schemes of men are held in high esteem while the Bible is thrown on the junk heap as out-moded.
3. There is a Pressing Need for Respect for Decency and Morality. Today we are bombarded with indecency of speech, dress, and manners. Indecent language, pictures, etc. come into the home via television, radio, newspapers, magazines and other avenues (Phil. 4:8; Eph. 4:29). Some wear few clothes, and others wear clothes from material of such nature that they may as well not wear any at all (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Many evidently do not know how to act decently and civilized around women and older folks (1 Tim. 5:1-3). Morality (according to the Bible) is outdated and now we have the “new morality.” Everyone is now his own standard and “love” is the guiding force. Of course, to them love is just the avenue to gratify their every lust and desire. The cry goes up, “You cannot legislate morals.” I do not want to legislate morals, but God has! He has spoken! (Read Gal. 5:19-21 and 2 Cor. 12:20-21.) Will we heed His Word?
Yes, on and on we could go. Certainly we live in a disrespectful age. But we do not have to live that way. We live in the world, but we do not have to be of the world. Let us strive to live a life of respect for God, His Word, and for our fellow man. God will be pleased and we will be blessed.
Truth Magazine XXII: 36, pp. 582-583
September 14, 1978