BUILDING A CONSCIENCE FOR GOOD
March 30, 1982 - Ethel Frey
Respect For Others
Heb. 13:18 Pray for us for we trust we have a goad conscience in all things willing to live honestly.
Heb. 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
Why should we examine ourselves and our children to make sure we are not overlooking some area of respect for others? In our present day we see so much lawlessness and disrespect. We can even see the disrespect growing in some areas in our own circles.Therefore we need to re-examine ourselves and our attitudes to see if we lack in this area. The Psalmist says "Try me and see if there he any wicked way in me." We need to pray that the Lord will open our eyes to anything that is not pleasing to Him.
The human tendency is to think of ourselves first and others next.
Some years ago a young woman told me of a conversation she had with her employer. Apparently she was praising herself and her employer asked, "Susie, who do you love?" She answered,"I, me, myself, and anyone else who loves me." She was saying this in a light manner, but really isn't that the way the old nature works? What does the Bible say about this? Here are some quotes from the Word:
Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.
Let each esteem other better than themselves.
Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them likewise; and many others.
Christian courtesy is a very necessary part of our lives.
How do we teach our children to have a proper respect for others? First we must examine ourselves as mothers to make sure we are not lacking ourselves. Our children will pick up the slightest failure on our part. You have all heard the saying, "More is caught than what is taught." Here is an illustration on how easily a child picks up an attitude from the parent.
A certain young father was quite displeased with another young man’s actions over a period of time, and rightly so. Months later his little three year old daughter was at the home where the young man worked. At the dinner table the little girl was quiet for awhile, then suddenly, without any warning looked up at the young man and said, "My daddy hates you!" You can imagine the shocked silence that followed! I'm sure the young father was voicing his displeasure of this young man’s actions many times but I'm sure he never said anything about hating him or even felt that strongly. But what he said was making an impression on his child and that is what it looked like to her. What impressions are our words giving to our children? The time to start teaching our children respect for others begins at a very early age.
Respect for authority is one of the most important things we can teach our children, What impressions do we as mothers give our children when we discuss church authority? Do we appreciate our church and its leaders and let our families know it? Do we talk about the good points of our leaders?
Do we let the children hear us say we are glad our leaders are so interested in our spiritual welfare, that they are concerned for our souls and are doing all they can to keep the church pure and acceptable before God? Or do we criticize our leaders or their messages and then think the children won't notice or understand what we say? A child is quick to pick up our attitudes even if it is only by the tone of our voice we use or the looks we may give each other, thinking they won't notice. NO one is perfect, not even our leaders, and occasionally one might say or do something you might not agree with. If this happens we may feel concern but not have a critical attitude or it is sure to be caught by our children and cause them to lose respect for that individual for years.
As children get older they sometimes begin showing disrespect for the rules of the church and the leaders who try to enforce them. Maybe that is our fault for not explaining the reasons why we have the rules we do. They need to be taught submission, but submission is much easier if they fully understand why the rules are made. Maybe we as mothers should remember and review with our children the account in Numbers 16 where Korah, Dathan, and Abiram complained about their leaders. Moses and Aaron, questioning their God-given authority and how God was displeased and opened the earth and it swallowed them up alive. Also when Miriam complained about Moses and Aaron, God gave her leprosy. These accounts show very clearly how God is displeased when we do not respect our God-given leaders.
In the home we need to have respect for one another. How do we talk to each other? When a child needs correction do we say it kindly and in a respectful manner which will make them want to please us? If we are respectfulto them, they will most likely speak respectfully to others. The Bible says,"Honor thy father and thy mother" and "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord." If our children are a heritage from God how can we humilate them and trampthem down, making them feel like worthless failures? Pity a child who is called brat, dummy,stupid, lazy, and others. On the other hand how can an older child honor his parents and refer to them as the old lady and the old man? Talking back and arguing is just as disrespectful.
One time my husband and I were helping a nice Christian family to move. During the day something came up and the father and grown son disagreed and they began scolding each other right in front of us. We were shocked at the way they talked to each other and especially in the presence of others. Was that showing respect for one another?
How do we feel about school teachers? Do we appreciate their willingness to be used? Do we see them as someone who is trying to do their best? Sometimes it is difficult for them to know how to handle certain situations. Do we help our children to feel thankful, they have such a good teacher or do we pick and complain about things that we might have done differently? If we do then we are feeding an attitude of disrespect in our children for their teacher.
We should pay attention to our childrens behavior when they are away from us. Sometimes they might show respect at home but when they are in the company of other children we might be surprised. Sometimes children might be disrespectful thinking it sounds smart or it will make others laugh or maybe just to get attention.
How do they talk to their school van drivers? Do they respect them and their wishes or do they make it hard for the drivers? should help our children realize that it is important for their own saftey to see that the atmosphere in the school van is quiet and orderly. How can someone drive safely when there is excessive noise and confusion? We all realize that children get carried away when having fun and need reminding. But how do they answer the driver when he or she asks them to keep the noise down or to stay in their seats? Do they give a smart answer and make everyone laugh? Do they talk back and mock the driver or do they just act as if they never even heard?
What about the laws of the land? Have we taught our children to respect them? Do they know that the Bible requires us to obey all the laws unless it conflicts with the Word of God? Do our children see us respecting and obeying the traffic laws or do they see us, sometimes if we are in a hurry, exceeding the speed limit on purpose, when there is no police car in sight? When we do accidently, without realizing it, exceed the speed limit, do we immediately slow do,m and comment on it saying we weren't paying enough attention, and we want to be more careful so it doesn't happen again. We can help them learn respect by seeing that we as parents really do want to obey all the laws for conscience sake and not for fear of being caught and paying a fine. Do we leave the impression that the police officer is doing a job for the protection of m:Inkind or that he is just out trying to catch everyone he can, to get honors or gain promotions?
The world tries in many ways to hinder their work and the world has many disrespectful names for the police officers but that is not for us Christians or our children.
Are we as mothers careful to respect the feelings of others? Have we impressed this upon our children? Have we taught them that it is easy to hurt others feelings and make them feel inferior or unaccepted? What about those who have a lower standard of living, are dressed poorly or have old cars? We should teach our children to respect those who try to live within their financial means. They should learn that there is no shame in being poor if it's the best they can do. Maybe they have very good reasons why things didn't go better. The materially poor person may be rich in other ways. They may have talents and gifts and insights that make them valuable to the church and a blensing to their friends. The Lord does not measure us by the material and we and our children should not do so either.
Our children should learn respect for those who are different than most people. How do they act around the retarded or mentally ill? Do they make fun of them or make unkind remarks or snicker, or whisper and point fingers? We might think our children would never do that but are we sure?
One time something like that did happen. There was a woman visiting our church who had mental problems and acted strangely sometimes. One of our daughters walked into the restroom and found two girls under school age making fun of this woman. They were bending over looking under her door and laughing and laughing. It made me question how the parents talked about her at home in front of the children. These girls had fine parents who were conscientious in teaching their children right. I'm sure they would have been shocked if they had known what their girls were doing. I'm sure they taught their children better than that and yet somehow the girls must have caught a lack of respect or an attitude of scorn somewhere for this woman.
What attitudes do they have about foster children from undesirable homes? We had foster children years ago. One time an older sister from another congregation approached me saying she thinks I should know how a certain group of boys were talking to our one foster son. She overheard them making fun of him because of what his real parents were and that he wasn't in his own home. He was the kind who kept his hurts to himself and he never mentioned it to us but I'm sure he was deeply hurt. Those boys were in their teens already and the sons of fine Christian parents.
I'm sure their parents would never have guessed their boys could be so unkind. Do we as parents feel sure our children would not do this type of thing and therefore we see no need of teaching in this area? Or do we have feelings against them ourselves like the mother who years ago told me she hopes the drivers don't assign her son to the same car asa young woman who was newly converted from a worldly home. They were going singing in some homes. If the mother felt like this, you could hardly expect her children to have the proper respect either.
Another area we should encourage proper respect is toward children of other races and colors. With so many adoptions of other races in our church, we must be sure to prepare our children to respect the feelings of these children. As they get older they will have enough problems of feeling different from their friends and maybe feeling some people don't accept them. It would be good if we mothers would purposly guide the conversation into these areas quite often. We would not want to lecture because that sometimes builds up a resistance in children but casually get on the subject. A good place would be at mealtime or when we are working together. We must somehow try to transmit to our children the idea of equality regardless of race, color, or physical features. After all, the difference is only skin deep.
There are many other areas in which we should teach the proper respect for the feelings of others. Some are the elderly people, the handicapped, the timid or shy person, the slow learners, those with speech defects or the socially backward person. These people often feel inferior and are easily hurt. They could imagine insults where none were intended so we must be especially careful and teach our children how to re late to them to keep them from being hurt.
An area of disrespect we see growing is the general disrespect of property. ln the world this is getting to be a real problem. People will mar or destroy anothers property just for the excitement of it and in the name of fun or many times for vengence or to retaliate something that displeases them.
The disrespect for property in our circles is very small compared to the world but just the same it is disrespect of property. We see children being extra careless with their toys, not caring if they do break because father or mother will probably get them another, better one. when we are away visiting and it's time to go home, do our children let the tricycles and wagons or trucks setting in the driveway where the milkman or the feedman might drive over them or do they pull them to the side where they are safe before they leave. Do we teach our children not to write or carve on the school desks or write on the rest room walls? When we as mothers borrow something from a friend, are we careful to return it promptly and in as good condition as it was when we got it? If we are careless in this area we can be sure our children will be careless about it also.
Are we careful how we handle our songbooks? Do we allow our children to play with them? Little children can accidently tear or wrinkle the pages even if we think we are watching carefully. Do we ever find words or pictures scratched on church benches or gum stuck under the benches?
Sometimes young people do things they think of as having fun, but we as adults would think otherwise. Sometimes during visiting the children will go walking through the fields and meadows and find glass bottles, etc. It seems children enjoy throwing glass bottles and watching them shatter, but it leaves pieces of broken glass lying hidden in the grass or earth for cattle or even little bare feet to step into or cattle could get broken glass in with a mouthful of grass and swallow it causing real trouble.
Breaking windows out of old vacant buildings or old cars of other people’s property is certainly not respecting the property of others.
We do not want to leave the impression that when we see a child who is disrespectful that it is because of a lack of teaching or poor example of the parents. Sometimes our children are influenced greatly by their associates in spite of all our teaching.
One mother wrote recently. "Every thing was fine until the children hit their mid-teens. Suddenly peer pressure took over. All the things they were taught as youngsters went out the window. The rules and regulations we set up were ignored. What their friends thought was far more important to them." What a sad thing to have happen to ones children. We must always be away of what kind of associates our children are spending their time with. If we see a lack of respect in them we need to put forth special effort to counteract that influence.
Disrespect is something we probably don't recognize in ourselves. We may not be aware of it until someone or something brings it to our attention. I'm sure we would not choose to be disrespectful and if we discover we do have trouble with it we would try hard to overcome it. It will take prayer for strength to overcome and perhaps a friend to remind us when we forget, but with God's help it is possible.
I Peter 3:8 “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethern, be pitiful, be courteous, not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing but contrariwise blessing.”