The Soapbox

A Personal Commentary by Mark Eidemiller

"Respect 101"

Okay, class. Settle down.


First off, I have to admit that I was originally prompted to do this study as an emotional reaction to things that were going on around me (the school shooting in Springfield, Oregon). I tried valiantly to pigeonhole every aspect of respect into its proper place and definition, take everything around me and somehow categorize them appropriately. And I found out, very quickly, that I had a lot of things to say. Eventually I saw that -- to my shame -- all my words were not what God wanted me to share.

So let's look at what was left after the dust settled --

"Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar's. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:15-21; see also Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25)

Let's stop and look at this.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of Jesus' time. They didn't like the competition from Jesus -- especially since the people were following him and not them. So they tried to trip him up, trick him into saying or doing something that would get him in trouble, either with the people who followed him, or would make him look like an enemy of the state.

In the above example, they tried tripping him up on the subject of taxes. Taxes -- known as tribute -- were paid to Caesar, the Roman emperor of the (known) world. All non-Romans had to pay taxes. The Pharisees started off by laying on the flattery, observing that Jesus didn't favor one type of person above another, and treated all equally. Their intent was to force Jesus into making a statement "on the record" regarding where he stood on giving tribute to Caesar. They knew that if Jesus said it WAS NOT lawful to pay tribute, then he would be in opposition of the ruling government. On the other hand, if he said that it WAS lawful to pay tribute, and then it would look like he was in support of something most of the people didn't care for. Either way, they thought they had Jesus cornered.

However, being God, he knew what their plan was, so countered them by asking for a penny, and asked who's face and name was on the penny (back then, all coins had Caesar's image, to show who was in charge). The Pharisees answered that it was Caesar's image and name. Then Jesus simply stated that they should give Caesar what was Caesar's -- the tribute money -- and give God what was God's.

That shut them up.

Now it comes back to us. Rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's meant paying taxes. We all know about paying taxes. But if we are to render unto God the things that are God's -- what is God's that we are to render unto Him?

God is God. He controls it all. He owns it all. There isn't anything around that He doesn't already own. IS THERE?

So what is left? We are. God wants us to render unto Him our lives, our ambitions, our dreams, our plans. He wants our will to be given up -- surrendered -- to Him. He wants EVERYTHING, and nothing short of that will make it.

That's the bottom line. If we respect and honor God, then we will respect and honor one another. One must follow the other.

Can you do that? Can I? Only if we're out of the way, and it is God working through us. Loving others with OUR love is pure self-ish-ness. Our love seeks only its own gain, never the gain for others first. Our love is self-satisfying. However, we're talking about GOD's LOVE, which is just the opposite -- seeks the gain of others before our own. Pure self-less-ness.

I am an American.

I was born in the city of Vancouver, in the state of Washington, in the United States of America. My citizenship is American by birth.

I am a Christian.

Jesus Christ is my God and my King. My eternal home is in Heaven, where Jesus is preparing a place for me. My loyalty is first to God, to Jesus Christ, and then to those whom He has placed in authority over me.

When I became a Christian, when Jesus Christ became my Lord and my Savior, my spiritual citizenship was shifted to Heaven.

A patriot is defined in Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary as: "one who loves his country and zealously guards its welfare".

I am a patriot -- of Heaven first, and of the United States of America last. And that gets me into trouble.

However, I'm in good company. Consider the words of Jesus Christ --

  • "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19)

         "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:14-16)

         "'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.'" (John 18:36 NIV)

You're probably asking, what does this have to do with respect?

At a recent public gathering, the National Anthem was played. Everyone stood but me. No one seemed to be bothered, until later. An elderly lady approached me and asked why I had not shown respect for our country by standing for the National Anthem.

This took me by surprise, and my response was unsatisfying to either of us.

Should -- and, if so, how should -- a Christian give respect unto the land of his birth?

How did the apostle Paul look at the earthly existence?

  • "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)

         "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 4:1 NIV)

         "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (2 Timothy 4:18)

         "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13-16)

In the eighth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the Christians ran into a problem regarding respect and eating.

In some of the poorer houses of Corinth, it wasn't uncommon for people to buy meat that had been sacrificed on the altars of false gods, or idols. The meat was cheap, and still tasted the same; so many people had no problem with it.

However, since the Christian was instructed not to eat such meats, to do so would be sin.

The problem: If I -- a Christian -- go to the house of my unsaved friend, should I ask him if he's going to be serving me meat that was sacrificed to idols, so I don't sin?

The answer was no. If you do, you might cause your unsaved friend, who may not know better, to sin. It is better to show respect for your friend by eating the meat without questions.

Now, on the other hand, if your friend informs you that the meat you're going to be eating had been sacrificed to idols, then you'd be committing sin if you do eat it. You'd do better to fast through the meal than to be a bad witness to your host.

Let's return to my situation of sitting during the National Anthem, in regards to respect.

Was I right in not standing? Yes and no.

I didn't suspect that anyone would be offended if I sat during the National Anthem. It was only later that the lady approached me with her concern. I may have looked like a traitor to my country to her. But that's not true if my "country" is Heaven.

Now if I had suspected, or knew, that someone would become offended if I sat, then I would have stood, so as not to become a stumbling block or an offense to them.

We are called to love one another -- people, not countries -- as we love God. Therefore we can stand out of respect to anyone who might find offense if we remained seated -- what could it hurt by giving up myself to those around me, as long as that is my attitude towards it.

And don't ask, "Is there anyone here who would be offended if I sat during the National Anthem?" just like the guest in 1 Corinthians 8 shouldn't ask, "Oh, by the way, was this meat sacrificed to idols?" You'll cause more trouble by doing so than by just going along and considering others before yourself.

Lastly, speaking for myself, I probably would have taken the time to come over to the lady who was offended, and explain myself with something more than a trite little phrase.

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

Have you ever seen a room full of people rise to their feet when Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" is played, especially during holidays? They're rendering honor unto God where honor is due.

Y'know....I kinda like the idea of the "Hallelujah Chorus" as Heaven's "national anthem" -- it'll do until I get there for the real thing, of course!

We're called to, wherever possible, live in peace with all men, for their sakes. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;" (Hebrews 12:14, 15)

With some people that will be impossible, because they are offended in Christ, and so are offended at us. Their contention is with God, and we're just the closest reminder. Wherever we can, we are to be those ambassadors of reconciliation we're called to be, but we'll never get away from those who hate God, and will therefore hate us.

Another matter that came up while considering this study on respect was children, anyone under the age of eighteen.

Nowadays, many children have no respect -- for parents, for adults, for God, for one another, or even for life itself, as demonstrated in the number of shooting incidents in and around schools.

My answer to this is easy, although some won't like it.

It's the parents' fault. If a child doesn't have respect, it's because they've never been taught respect by their parents. And it's probably a sure bet that the parents don't have much respect for anything, either.

If a child is disrespectful towards others, they learned it through their parents' disrespect for others. I have seen this personally illustrated. A small child of two or three, looking at a policeman, made a comment that was very disrespectful and derogatory. The parents did not correct the child; therefore they showed their support for his actions. Their inaction illustrated their own disrespect for policemen, and for the proper raising of their child.

If a child does not show respect for man nor God, for life nor others, they have not been shown it by the parents. And it's a good bet that the parents don't respect God either.

If a family openly respects God, the children will have healthy examples to follow, and will learn what it is to respect God.

On the other hand, if a family doesn't respect God, or openly shows disrespect towards God, the children will learn disrespect towards God, and it will eventually backfire on the parents.

It's a downhill spiral for the individual, with hell as the inevitable outcome, unless God intervenes and they are brought a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, interrupting the parent's destructive teaching. But, because of their upbringing, it becomes a rough uphill battle.

Even a parent who has the best of motives, the best of teaching, and all the love they can show can still show no respect to God. And that is passed over to the child, invisibly and silently. If a parent shows no respect for life, or authorities, the child will be brought up to believe that authorities are not worthy of being respected, and will follow the parent in those hell-bound steps.

Am I coming down hard on the parents? YOU BET! SOMEONE HAS TO!

For the sake of the children. For the sake of the parents.

And for the sake of the victims THAT MIGHT BE.

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

Children are a gift of God.

  • "I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." (Genesis 17:16 NIV)

         "May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples." (Genesis 28:3 NIV)

         "Then Rachel said, 'God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.' Because of this she named him Dan." (Genesis 30:6 NIV)

         "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NIV)

         See also Genesis 30:17-20, 22-24; Genesis 33:5; Ruth 4:13; Job 1:21; Psalm 107: 38, 41; and Psalm 113:9.

How do you treat a gift? Some people treat gifts like day-old bread, not treating it with respect and care.

A child is not a Tamaguchi. A child is not a puppy. A child is a child.

A Tamaguchi you can throw away, or put in a pocket, or ignore in a desk drawer and bring it out when you want to play with it. A puppy you can put in a kennel, or in a doghouse in the kitchen or in the back yard, and play with it when it's convenient for you.

A child you cannot throw away (although many have done so through abortion). A child you cannot put in your pocket, or hide in a closet, or put in a kennel or a doghouse in the back yard.

God gives children. Treat children with respect and care. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

This scripture works both ways, for good or for evil. A child can be trained up in respect for God -- or disrespect for God. And the way will be based on where the parents stand with God.

Need help on standing with God? Check out my page on Salvation.

Respect. Respect God. Respect and honor others above ourselves, because it is Christ working in us.

Teach respect to the generation that will follow after us -- and could kill us.

Class dismissed.

Any comments? Feel free to email me.
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