Why is that so hard – accepting a message of advice and direction? Why do we so often rebel against “help” even when we know it’s well-intended and beneficial? It may have something to do with the condition of our hearts. Scripture insisting that, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8:47 Granted, not everyone’s word carries the weight of Christ’s, but most advisors, such as our parents, preachers, teachers, and even bosses, don’t intend to do us harm either.
There is danger in accepting counsel from the immature, inexperienced and unsaved. You, “…are from God and have overcome them. (The lies and misinformation of the unbelieving world – so we hope!) They speak from the view-point of the world, therefore the world listens. But, “…whoever knows God listens to us,…” 1 John 4:4,5, 6 (“Us” representing those in Biblical and/or moral authority.)
‘But sometimes I’m not taken seriously!’ True, at times erroneously. But sometimes you don’t act very serious! ‘Nobody respects me for who I am!’ True, at times unfairly. But sometimes you don’t act very responsibly!
Maybe the real question is: How much respect do you deserve? (And for what?) Or maybe better put, how serious should you be taken? Oftentimes the battle between old and young for respect centers on the parent/child relationship which can be emblematic of any older, established authority figure contesting with a newer, younger idea or movement. As such, let’s look at Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” But sometimes the mere bringing up and training in instruction can be exasperating for you. Why? Because NO ONE LIKES TO BE TOLD WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO OR BELIEVE! You want to do your own thing. Your parents want you to do what is right or best. Sometimes they’re the same thing – sometimes they’re not. How do I, then, as a parent, preacher or teacher, or even the government tell or teach you to do anything? By example. By your witnessing the truth of a thing. By explaining the cause and effect of your actions and finally – sometimes, when all else fails, demanding obedience.
Taking advantage of opportunity involves looking, listening and learning. Obedience or disobedience is your option. Your responsibility then is to accept the consequences, both good and bad of your decisions. Ephesians 6:1,2 exhorting you to obey your parents, to honor your father and mother. (Or for that matter all authority placed over you. See Romans 13:1-5 & Titus 3:1,2) And then reminds us of a promised blessing contingent on that obedience.
Beyond that – why should we obey? Hopefully, out of respect. Possibly as acknowledgement that others may know a little of life that they can impart to you. Sometimes out of fear of punishment or other unpleasant consequences. Is that fair? I think so. Proverbs 23:17 states, “Do not withhold discipline from a child;…”; and talks about the “rod” of punishment. But note here the word discipline. Is there a difference between discipline and punishment? I believe there is; discipline encompassing training and teaching, an attempt to impart ideas and wisdom rather than just inflicting discomfort for wrongdoing. As in, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Paul characterizing the Christian walk in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 as a race, a competitive venture requiring strict training to win. He also notes the usefulness of God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 for training, teaching – and yes – correcting and rebuking; to prepare us for usefulness through good works. We all know athletic endeavors take training. We work out, even when we’re tired, or bored – to reach a point of effectiveness and usefulness for the team. And when we screw up, we often are “punished” or disciplined by running extra laps or doing push-ups , etc. That isn’t because the coach is vindictive but because he is attempting to teach us to concentrate. To help us – or make us remember. Hebrews 12:5-11 dealing with God’s disciplining of us, as a direct result of his love for us. (Read it! It’s a classic expression of the intent and purpose of discipline.)
At times, what it really boils down to is: How serious do you take yourself? Do you respect others and yourself enough to excel and be respectable? Much depends on the vision you have of who you are, what God expects and what people around you deserve. For respect is, must be, mutual. We must be willing to say with Paul, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 Why should I respect you? As a living being you deserve a certain amount of respect but true respect – acknowledgement and appreciation – comes in degrees as you earn it. Jesus expressing a life principle when he said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 Thus trustworthiness and dependability equal respectability.
Matthew 25 records Jesus talking about the talent we’ve been blessed with – great or small – instructing us then to use it to the best of our ability. What can you do? What do you want to do? More significantly, what are you willing to do to become a contributing member of society at school, home, work, and church? A pattern worth following is noted by Luke in Acts 2:37-43, “When the people heard… ”; they sought a deeper understanding that led to obedience. “Those who accepted his message… ”; were saved and devoted themselves to the Way. As a result, the Lord blessed and increased their number daily.
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