respect

Here is my latest entry for Our Daily Journey.  As always, any recommendations would be appreciated.  I have a concern in the last paragraph, but I can’t find an easy way to fix it.  So if something bothers you there, give me an idea on how to improve it!

read > 1 Chronicles 11:10-19

So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David.  But David refused to drink it.  Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the LORD (v. 18).

In his book Faith at the Edge, philosopher Robert Wennberg describes attending a small church with his students as they traveled through Europe.  The students were not greeted warmly by the church members, did not know enough of the language to follow the songs or the sermon, and generally considered their Sunday morning to be a complete waste of time.  Wennberg assured them that it wasn’t, for the effort they made to worship with fellow believers was an act of respect toward God.

Wennberg quoted Pascal:  “Respect means; put yourself out….it amounts to saying:  I should certainly put myself out if you needed it, because I do so when you do not; besides, respect serves to distinguish the great.  If respect meant sitting in an armchair we should be showing everyone respect and then there would be no way of marking distinction, but we make the distinction quite clear by putting ourselves out.”

We respect others when we put ourselves out for them.  It may be something small, such as standing to our feet when they enter the room, saluting or tipping our hat, or kneeling in front of their wheelchair.  It might be huge, as when David’s elite warriors snuck behind enemy lines to bring him water from Bethlehem or when David, overcome by the magnitude of their love, poured out the water as a drink offering to the LORD.

We respect God when we practice our spiritual disciplines.  We all experience dry spells when the Bible seems irrelevant, our prayers don’t seem to matter and we’d rather sleep in than go to church.  Do them anyway.  Down times are opportunities to express your allegiance to God.  If you continue to put yourself out, even when you do not feel any benefit, you pay God the highest respect.

12 Comments

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  1. eh…
    i think i hear what you’re saying, but if feels all worksy to me, and i’m pretty sure “the highest respect” is the absolute highest possible form of over-the-top hyperbole.

    maybe, “One means of demonstrating of respect to God is the practice of spiritual disciplines…”?

  2. david, I guess I don’t agree with you on being ‘worksy.’ Allegiance is a major aspect of faith, so underlying Mike’s point seems to be the importance of your faith not being grounded in subjective experience. Perhaps, though, the fact that it could be read that way shows that a clarification of the tie between allegiance and faith needs to be made.

  3. Mike, I think the last sentence could end with, ‘…you pay God the highest respect, and love.’ Something like that, anyway, that moves toward relationship. In our culture, we can easily respect someone who does not know that we exist, and it seems that you need something at the end of the devotional to pull the reader toward a warmer emotion.

    [Thanks for coming to Indy. It was a great weekend!]

  4. Interesting article on respect in the Stanford Dictionary of Encyclopedia…

  5. Thank you for your feedback guys–no one noticed the sentence that bothered me, which on the one hand is good news but on the other hand may indicate that I have larger problems!
    Todd–your source seems like a name that Stephen Colbert might give to a made up book. Does that really exist, or are you playing off the theme of respect, and did I just walk all over your joke?🙂

  6. Is the sentence that bothered you “Do them anyway?” I had to think for about half a sec what “them” referred to, but then I got it. If I’m right, a possible solution is “Do these things anyway.”

    This is just my opinion, but the English word “respect” seems to have many connotations for people, and not all of the connotations are positive. (Sometimes I think of showing respect as merely being polite, or — I’ll admit it — showing more respect than I think a person deserves.)

    What do you think of adding a one- or two-sentence statement of the kind of respect God is due? This may contextualize the word, make it more meaningful for people.

  7. Adam:

    That was the sentence. Thanks for your thoughts on respect–I’ll have to consider that–I’m wondering though if the problem isn’t with respect but the fact that you feel obligated to give it to someone who is unworthy. Wouldn’t the objection you feel toward respect also apply to appreciation or gratitude–good things that misfire when we are forced to show them to people we deem unworthy? Help me understand if there is something about respect that makes it unique in this way. Thanks!

  8. I also noticed “Do them anyway”. I had to read it twice to realize the “them” was the “spiritual disciplines” two sentences earlier.

    Maybe: “Don’t let that stop you from doing them.”

  9. Jonathan Shelley March 24, 2010 — 1:53 pm

    Mike:

    Sorry to be so long getting around to this – they actually expect to me to do work at work these days, but I started chewing on this earlier today and thought maybe something like this:

    We respect God when we practice our spiritual disciplines. We all experience dry spells when the Bible seems irrelevant, our prayers don’t seem to matter and we’d rather sleep in than go to church. But when you continue to put yourself out, even when you do not feel any benefit, you pay God the highest respect. It is not the respect of duty or fear, but an expression of love, worship, and thanksgiving.

  10. i noticed that sentenced, but assumed the “them was the spiritual disciplines. in my opinion it’s sometimes good to have an awkwardly phrased sentence to force the reader to slow down and consider what you are really writing. i’d leave it.

  11. Dr. Wittmer, interesting point. You’re right, as in showing respect, I’d be uncomfortable about showing gratitude if I felt gratitude would be an unreasonable response.

    Regarding respect, I’m sure its connotations for me have been colored by my experience. I’ve been in circumstances where my elders/superiors have construed disagreement as disrespect. That tends to get under my skin more than it should.

    All that said, is it fair to say our new technology lets us drift farther away from the value of respect? I think it’s clear the Internet makes disrespect less of a social risk, but I’m not sure how that’s significant. I don’t know if people are more disrespectful today than they were 50 or even 10 years ago, but I wonder about this when I see the rising popularity of social media. As blogs and other media rival the appeal of more traditional “authoritative” sources, I wonder if this reflects a growing unease about acknowledging that some people are authorities on their subjects.

    Well, I’m interested in what other people think about this. What do you gentlemen think of when you think of showing respect? When you think of how you were 10 years ago, are you now more or less respectful? To other people? To God?

  12. Oops. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It was late…

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