Do You Respect God?
When we found out we were being gifted with a female poodle puppy, we panicked! We had two cats, always had had cats, but no dog, ever! What sort of adjustments did we have to make? What did we need to have ready? I hurried to a convenient dry goods store to buy a book all about poodles.
Nearing the pet department, I encountered an elderly man very unkempt and seedy, clad in an oversized, threadbare coat. He was pushing a shopping cart and in the front section usually reserved for a child to ride lay an equally unkempt poodle, fur matted and eyes runny. In my desperation, I pardoned my intrusion and told the man of my dilemma. Could he help me in becoming a poodle owner? Without hesitation, he replied, "If you respect her, she will respect you," and continued on his way.
Respect a dog? It seemed a bit far-fetched, yet I never forgot his advice and it paid off. Not only did I apply it to the puppy we named Molly, but have found that respect works with all creatures of nature. Respect their innate qualities and how they were created by God, and they will respect your presence, too, with certain privileges.
Much more importantly, respect applies to people. Each person born has a soul as precious to God as is mine or yours. I worked for a time at a state mental hospital. Although my patients were gravely ill in their minds and in many cases were very dangerous, they were also human with feelings and emotions that could be touched deeply. As I respected them, they gave me their respect and love, too. In fact, on one occasion a man placed on strict bedrest for a suspected heart attack jumped out of bed and came to my rescue when another patient was about to attack me. He put himself in jeopardy for my sake, so deep was his loyalty!
However, respect goes even beyond animals and people. Most important of all is respect for God Himself. People flippantly claim to love God while their lives and actions bear witness to the opposite. The word "love" in today's world has many levels of meaning, some very superficial and self-serving. Respect is more absolute in current vernacular. Do you, do I, respect God?
What does "respect" really mean? We show respect by being polite and kind, by observing the wishes of another individual, by truly treasuring them. In the case of God, we prove our respect for Him by being obedient to His laws and commands.
Some folks claim that we're in the New Testament now and "law" and "command" are words that belong with the Old Testament. However, in John 14:21 where Jesus talked with His true disciples before His crucifixion, He again stressed that we show our love and our respect for God by keeping His commandments:
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
It's a fact that when we fear God, we want to keep His commandments. We want to please Him. The writer of Proverbs said the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. What follows, then, is obedience, and, as Jesus said, He would disclose Himself to those who keep His commandments...and knowing Jesus intimately is wisdom gained at its heart.
What by far is the most amazing truth about respect is that God respects us, human beings, that are a creation of His word! The Aaronic blessing translated according to the original meaning of each Hebrew letter and word in Numbers 6:24-26 is found at Ancient Hebrew Research Center and reads as follows:
YHWH will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection.
YHWH will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will give you comfort and sustenance.
YHWH will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.
God kneels before us presenting gifts. Look at what gifts they are: protection, order, comfort, sustenance, and also all we need to be whole and complete! What greater demonstration of fatherhood and humble respect could we see or hear than that?
Well, try this one on for size: INCARNATION! God who created us came in our form, a human, and was subject to everything we experience: pain, suffering, hunger, thirst, being snubbed, rejected, hated, lied about, jealousy and so much more. Finally He was hung on a Roman cross with Jewish leaders and a mob of common folks milling at its base watching Him suffer and die not for wrongs He had done, but for ours! If that isn't respect and unmeasurable love, tell me what is. How much more reason to respect Him!
The question remains, then! Do we really love and respect God? That is the supreme question that demands an answer of "yes" if we are to go to heaven. When a person can walk all over God's declared will and requirements and take their behavior lightly, it is doubtful they are born again at all. Jesus is not merely a fire escape from hell. He is One we must follow, love, obey and respect!
Do you, do I, respect God? Really respect Him? That, my friend, is the question.