Have you ever been in a situation where you were supposed to respect someone and didn’t/couldn’t bring yourself to do it? I had a couple times in high school where this situation came up. And they both had to do with teachers.
Maybe you struggle with this whole idea of respect.
And why wouldn’t you?
As I watch our world unfold around us, this is one of the traits that is disappearing at a greater speed than anything else.
If you don’t like what someone tells you to do, or says to you, you attack them.
If you get offended by someone’s stance, you slander them to other people.
It’s common place to hear kids disrespecting parents, teachers, coaches, etc. anymore.....
So how are we to respond? Well, thankfully, 1 Thessalonians tells us, so turn with me to chapter 5, starting in verse 12.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ
So each other, you guys
Those who are over you in Christ
So, your leaders, your parents, the older people in the church
And also, it goes a step forward, we are to esteem them very highly in love
Here’s the thing though, we are only going to respect what/who we find to be important.
So, if you are finding your “important” out there, then more often than not, you won’t respect much in here.
If you follow the world’s example, you’ll be so self-focused that respect is the farthest thing from your mind.
What you admire, you aspire to be
Respect though, is so much more than just getting along. Or putting up with someone.
Which is probably how a lot of you feel about your parents a good bit, or how you feel about me!
But respect is a verb, respect requires action. We only truly respect when we are in motion
Did you know we respect others
We respect others when we takes time to:
Promote peace among us
Help steer the idle back into an active walk with Christ
Encourage those who are down and out
Help those in need
And I can hear what some of you are thinking....”If I’m not getting respect, I’m not going to show respect.”
Well, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’d say it works the other way.
If we show respect to our Christian peers, then maybe they’ll return it.
But the truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter if they do or not. Because that’s on them.
We each have to live our own lives, and we each have to own God’s Word, and decide whether or not it is important enough to even pay attention to.
First point was we must live lives of respect amongst ourselves, amongst believers. We’re called to love, and respect is a true sign of love.
Which brings us to our next point....read with me in verses 16-22.
Issue of the heart
We saw that we need to respect one another in the faith, and even more so those who are over us in the faith, and that anchors off of our heart. But Paul takes it even further here, as if that wasn’t hard enough
Pray without ceasing
Give thanks in all circumstances
Don’t quench the spirit
Don’t despise prophecies
Hold fast to what is good
Abstain from evil
Quite a list right? Seems impossible, right? Well, it is, but we’ll get there in a minute.
Let’s focus on this command from Paul.....”Do not quench the spirit.”
You see, by choosing to live for ourselves, by choosing to ignore the commands of God’s Word because they bore us, or because we don’t deem them important, or because none of our friends follow them, we are essentially doing to the Holy Spirit what parvo did to my dog.
And the more we quench the spirit, the quieter it becomes, and the farther we move away from God.
So the question you have to ask yourself, is how have you been living? Have you been starving the Holy Spirit? And you could be doing it on purpose or not realizing it.
How do we quench the spirit?
We spend time with Him
Word and prayer
We spend time glorifying Him
Respect, being thankful, holding fast to what is good, and proclaiming His name.
And what you’ll find is, the more you trust Him, the more you spend time with Him, the clearer His instructions become, and the easier they are to follow.
Because like we said, respecting people is hard enough, but it gets even harder with the second set of instructions Paul gives us.
But the best news is we are not alone in this.
We have the Spirit
Which is God
Look at verses 23-24 with me
This is how God sanctifies us.
He gave us the Spirit to guide us.
And as we listen to the Spirit and live for Him, His Word becomes more and more clear.
God is faithful
He doesn’t leave us.
He won’t fail us
He won’t let us be snatched from His hand
So where are you with respecting other people? If you are anything like me, you’ve got some work to do in this area. But remember, you aren’t alone. You’ve been given the Holy Spirit, if you are a believer, to guide you.
But maybe you’ve quenched the Spirit to the point where you can’t hear it anymore.
Maybe you always think about yourself and are totally okay with it
Or maybe you aren’t ever found to be rejoicing in Him or thankful in Him, and you are just like the world.
If that’s where you are, this won’t be an easy turn around. But, it’s possible.
Start with this list from Paul and concentrate on living for Him.
It will take work, yes, but as you try to live more and more for Him, what you’ll find is the Holy Spirit becoming more easily recognizable.
But wherever you are, you, YOU, have got to own this. I can’t make you, this is a decision you have to make for yourself.