Respect and Honor

For centuries, authors have written about the younger generation. From the time of the Roman Empire until now, one thing has always been believed and written – no one seems to feel that the next generation of young adults has the proper respect for their elders, parents, or property.

Through the centuries, each adult generation has believed the youth of their generation are disrespectful. And the reason, of course, is because that’s the way it appears. However, the truth is, each generation is the product of the teaching and training of the previous generation.

A couple of years ago, one of the young boys at our church needed a ride to a local store so his parents could pick him up. They were having transportation problems and since I was going that way, I volunteered to drop him off. As we started down the highway, the young man reached in his pocket and pulled out a candy bar. He started looking out the windows in several directions, then immediately threw the candy bar wrapper out the window. When I commented that he shouldn’t litter, his response was, “Dad says it’s okay as long as you don’t see a policeman when you do it.” That parent had trained his child that disrespect and lawlessness was acceptable as long as you didn’t get caught.

When I was a young boy growing up in Raytown, Missouri, the pastor of the church I attended seemed quite old to me at the time (probably in his fifties). My parents referred to him as Brother Porter. They were friends. Other adults referred to him as Pastor Porter or Rev. Porter. He was a great man of God and I respected him. But if I would have called him “Hey, Joe,” my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap, or my dad would probably have taken me outside the building for a nice little chat.

Rebellion is not of God. However, everything that looks like rebellion is not. Every generation attempts to assert itself by not being like the previous generation. If the adults have short hair, the next generation has long hair, and if the adults have long hair, the next generation shaves their heads.

But some things should not be changed. Respect, honor, and loyalty should be standards through all generations. Regardless of how a person looks on the outside, inside the fruit of the spirit must be nurtured. As adults, we should never “write off” the younger generation just because they are different.

A trip to the farm will show that there is a huge difference between youth and age. While the yearlings are jumping around, running, and getting into mischief, the mature animals are standing quietly by chewing and watching. It’s natural for children and youth to act differently than the elderly. And neither should be criticized for the actions of their age.

To go to the house of God, we are not required to dress like we’re going to the senior prom. But there has been an extreme casualness that has entered the church on every level that demonstrates a lack of honor for God, His house, and His values. How can we expect the world to honor God when God’s people refer to Him as the “Big Man Upstairs,” and treat Him like a “good ol’ boy?”

Years ago as a man was leaving our church, he stopped off by the restroom. Later as he was walking out the double doors in front of the church, one of the doors bumped his shoulder and three rolls of toilet paper that he had stolen from the bathroom fell to the ground. How can adults who steal from God expect their children to respect the house of God? Of course, we will help people in need, but there is a huge gap between benevolence and theft. Adults should know the difference!

Instead of complaining about the disrespect of the young, let’s try training them by example. Actually, children imitating their parents has been much of the problem. Many adults show no respect for the commands of God and don’t trust God with their money.

When parents force their children to go to school, and then give them a choice of whether or not to attend church, that is teaching and training their child that the schoolhouse is more important than God’s house.

So here’s the conclusion. Adults must realign their values with God’s Word. Children are very perceptive. They can see past empty words, so the value change must take place in the heart. Empty words backed up by lame actions will not change anything, but conviction and motivated sincere actions will rally the next generation.

Too many adults say one thing and do something else. Young people are looking for honesty, integrity, and spiritual insight. They will listen to someone who has something to say, and they will imitate someone who is real. The young people didn’t create the problems of today; they inherited them, and to blame them is wrong.

Devotion 0534

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