Christian, lead the way in showing respect

July 9th, 2018 / By: Dick Sisk | Pastor of Tarpley Baptist Church / comments

The song was written in 1965 by Otis Redding. Aretha Franklin had a hit with it in 1967. It was simply titled R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Both singers are asking for just a little bit of it. Respect. And I agree with both Otis and Aretha. Although the world really needs love, coming in a close second is respect. We throw the word around quite a bit, but, like love, we do more talking about it than we do expressing it.

There was a time when parents taught their children what it meant to respect authorities, those older than themselves, the flag, the Bible, church and one another.  Somewhere, we lost the meaning of giving and paying respect.

I think we’ve reached a point in our culture where we would all do well to relearn and reteach what it means to show a little bit of respect. But especially among those who identify with Christ. It almost seems to be a lost art. Let me give you just a small illustration.

Last year, after I spoke at a memorial service for a friend, we were escorted to the cemetery by seven fire trucks and emergency vehicles, all with full emergency lights, followed by a flower van, a hearse, my car, the family cars and about 20 to 30 other cars in the procession. It’s about 14 miles from the funeral chapel to the cemetery. Growing up, I was taught a little thing called respect—which is a very big thing. Part of that teaching was the expectation that when you meet a funeral procession, you pull your vehicle over and wait for it to pass—out of respect. Down here in the South, it was always done. 

But in this instance, only one in about every 10 or 12 cars pulled over; the rest didn’t even slow down. Now, if I saw seven emergency vehicles with lights flashing, followed by a hearse, and 30 cars with lights on and flashers going, I would say to myself, “Hmm, must be a funeral procession. I’ll just pull over to the side until it passes, out of respect.” But it didn’t happen. I think it is a symptom of our culture. Largely, we have forgotten how to give respect to each other. 

As Christian people, we should be much more apt to show respect than those in the world. So the next time you see a funeral procession, pull over until the procession passes, then you can drive like the wind in order to make up those two to three minutes you used up sitting on the side of the road. In no more time than it took you to read this little opinion, you could have shown respect and been on your merry way. 

There are so many other situations where we could set the example in showing respect. What about the opinions, the wisdom and the wishes of those who are older than we are? Or when someone loses a loved one, do we contact them, give them a call, show up with a casserole and a shoulder to lean on? Teach your children to show respect, especially to the authorities in their lives, whether to teachers, to law enforcement or to anyone older than themselves. Teach them to give respect to the flag, to the military, to the veteran, to the Pledge of Allegiance, to the Star-Spangled Banner. Our culture will not teach it. We must. 

Peter had something to say about this in his letter. “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).

So here’s my plea. Slow your life down. And out of respect, pull over. And teach others to do the same. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, just a little bit. 

Dick Sisk is pastor of Tarpley Baptist Church in Tarpley, northwest of San Antonio.