By Mr. and Mrs. Clifford W. Bell
Respect for others is grounded in respect for God himself. From the beginning of time, man has been taught the importance of having respect for God, for his word, and for our fellow man.
Respect Begins With Parents
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve learned a great lesson of the unhappiness that comes in life when we fail to respect God’s law. Their own failure to submit to the Word of God contributed to failure and great tragedy in their family. Cain did not have respect for God, which caused him to commit murder (Gen. 4). These accounts show us how disrespect leads to sin.
We, as parents, must have respect for God’s law, which includes civil laws as they are ordained of God. If we fail to be the right examples before our children and the world, how can we expect our children to respect us or the law of God. This training must begin when we bring them into the world. Respect must first be taught and learned at home. Please do not wait until they are toddlers! If we fail to teach them in the very early years of life, the task will become more difficult with every passing day.
As we teach our children to have respect for others, let us remember that wives must set the right example by respecting their husbands as the leader in the family; likewise the husband should respect the wife as she assumes her role in the home (Eph. 5:22-33).
We only need to look around us to see the many problems that have arisen in our society today because of the lack of respect for authority in the home, school, the Lord’s church, and our nation. Let us say again, as parents we must set the proper example along this line if we expect our children to listen to our teaching on respect. I am reminded of a story told by brother Bobby Thompson (faithful evangelist at Pruett and Lobit church of Christ) about the father who was walking across a freshly plowed field, when he heard someone behind him. As he turned he saw his young son trying to place his small feet in the large steps his father had made in the fresh soil. The youngster eagerly said, “Keep on, Daddy, I’m walking in your steps.” Do we want our children walking in our steps? Oh, how careful we must be!
How to Show Respect
There are many ways in which we show respect: by the things we say and the way we say them, by the things we do and our attitude when we participate in daily activities, and also by taking care of the property of others.
Brother Bell’s Comments
When I was in college during the 1930s and when I was in the Armed Services from 1940-1945, 1 rode on buses and trains a lot of the time. If a young lady or an elderly person got on the bus or train and there were no empty seats, I would immediately offer that person mine. Today we rarely ever find anyone getting up to offer his chair to anyone – young, elderly, or crippled. This is an example of the change in our society in failing to show respect for others.
We need a revival in learning the importance of showing respect in every walk of life and especially toward the aged.
How can we show respect? Young people, think with me as I list some of the ways:
1. Listen to your parents when they address you.
2. Don’t talk back to your parents.
3. Never talk about them in a disrespectful manner such as “the old man” or “the old lady.”
4. Be attentive to them and give them a kind and honest answer.
5. Be a “man of your word. ” Promises should not be broken. You want them to trust you so always be honest. Parents should realize that these items just listed apply to them as well as to their children, especially number 5.
6. Show respect to the boy or girl you are dating. Treat them like you would want someone to treat your brother or sister when they date.
Respect for the Elderly
Young people generally do not outwardly show a lot of respect for elderly people. We notice this at worship services and also in the home. Why? Probably, because very few people take the time to train their children as we are commanded (1 Tim. 5:12).
We must respect our parents, grandparents, neighbors, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Someone has said, “Don’t let your parents down, they brought you up.” Parents are willing to go without many things, just to make life easier for their children. They have loved and cared for you through the years when the going wits rough. They will continue to pray for you and help in every way possible as you prepare to take your place in this life and look for a city whose builder and maker is God.
Let us all respect the elderly and let them know they are “special.” We honor our aged parents when they are unable to care for themselves by providing for their every need physical, spiritual, and emotional. They cared for us when we were unable to care for ourselves.
Sister Bell Comments Regarding Her Aunt and Mother As I think of the years when I was a teenager at home some fifty years ago, I well remember when an elderly aunt, 85 years of age, came to live with us for about four years. My parents had 10 children. Our only brother was not living at home, but there were nine of us girls living with our parents in a five room house. There were beds in every room in the house I think except in the kitchen, but we found room for Aunt Allie. I will never forget how my mother was willing to make room for my Daddy’s aunt. The respect that Mother showed for Daddy, by willingly making room in our house for his elderly aunt made a lasting impression on her children. This is a good example of “respect for the elderly.”
My daddy died when Mother was 78 years old. Mother lived alone for eight or nine years, but in 1980 she felt the need to be with some of us.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:2, “Honor thy father and mother.” In 1 Timothy 5:4 and 16 we learn that we have the responsibility to care for our parents, that the church be not charged. We are thankful to have been taught to respect God’s laws by respecting our mother and doing our part to help make her last years on this earth as pleasant as possible.
All the girls decided that she would live with each one of us for one month; in 1981, she began living with her children. She has an extended visit of a month. While in our home she enjoys seeing our grandchildren more and it works the same with the other sisters. Since there are about seventy grandchildren and great grandchildren, she enjoys seeing a few of them each month.
Learning Respect From Our 95 Year-Old Mother
Mother is now 95 years old and she seems to have aged faster these past two or three years; she needs more loving care than she once did. When she comes to spend a month with us now, other things must be set aside so that her needs are not neglected. While we have tried to show love and respect to her, she has continued to teach us the meaning of love and respect even in her declining years. There was a time a few years ago that she helped in the kitchen and folded clothes (maybe not the way I would have done it), but that meant so much to her. “Why?” you may ask. She still felt she was able to do something to help others. She spent many hours and days piecing quilts for her loved ones.
Times have changed. She isn’t able to do things for us in a physical way any more. Her eyesight isn’t good, her hearing is almost gone, and her body is frail. She needs help sometimes just to get from the chair to the table. She isn’t able to dress herself or take care of her personal needs, but she spent the month of December with us and did not miss any of the worship services at Pruett and Lobit. She is not able to hear much of the sermon; she can’t read well enough or hear the song leader to sing much, but she tries sometimes. She readily partakes of the Lord’s Supper and begins to look for her check when the time comes for her to contribute of her means. When her mind was good she told me many times, that even though she may worship at other congregations, she wanted her contribution to go to Pruett and Lobit, because she knew the truth was taught there and her membership was there. Mother is still teaching us today by demonstrating great respect for God and his laws. She is due our respect.
Examples of Younger People Showing Respect
There are not many pleasures for Mother in this life anymore, but she still enjoys being with her family and especially the little ones; they have time to make her laugh. It means so much if you just stop long enough to give “Mee-Maw” a hug or kiss; that just makes her day and the days are long for her now. Besides giving her a little attention, we can be helpful in other ways. Even though you are young in years, the elderly need you and it is appreciated so much. Just watch them smile when you are kind or show them a little respect by lending a helping hand.
Our 17-year-old grandson was here in December while Mother was with us. He helped “Mee-Maw” from her chair to the table when it was time to eat. We have a four-year old grandson who spent several days with us while Mother was here. He would go to her chair and ask, “Mee-Me, do you want me to get you something?” He held the quilt pieces for her when she worked on a quilt.
You should have seen Mother smile when her grandson helped her to the table. She rewarded the four-year-old with a kiss for being her little helper.
We were getting out of the car one Sunday morning in time for worship services. While Cliff was parking the car, a young man in his thirties came by and said, “Sister Young, take my arm and I will help you go into the building.” Mother looked up at him, smiled, and took his arm as they walked into the building. She was so pleased. Thank you, Marcus Suttle.
There , are many elderly people who are not as blessed as “our” mother. There are nine daughters along with eight sons-in-law who love and respect her.
Some do not have children to care for them and some have children who do not care for them. Sometimes the children are unable (physically) to care for them. There are those who are not willing to give up other pleasures to spend the time (sometimes twenty-four hours a day) caring for the aged.
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 12, pp. 358-359
June 15, 1989