E-Pao! Essay - Respect

.:: R E S P E C T ::.

By:- James Vaiphei *

"Do what I say and you'll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight - guard it!" (Proverbs 7:2)

An article landed on my desk. I was expecting it but I wasn't expecting what it said. To say it was a pleasant surprise sounds horribly tame and boring. I was surprised; I was excited. It connected.

One statement stood out: are the silent majority are too silent? I thought about it. Good question. We say 'silence is golden' and sometimes it is - but is it always? Silence comes in so many varieties.

There's the silence you experience laying on a sandy beach on a hot summer's day. Nice! The silence of expectation can be exciting for a time, but silence for too long can turn sour.

And then there's the silence of refusing to engage. It's a stubborn position we've all experienced. This silence tries to deny the problem, pretend it isn't there. It doesn't solve anything. And maybe that brings us back to the question of the silent majority. Perhaps silence is the point of the silent majority, but is it really helpful?

The majority still has thoughts and opinions, however unexpressed they are. Turning a blind eye to situations they know are wrong only builds tension and frustration. The answer is to engage; to speak and to act. That's why the article excited me.

Finally we have on this list Respect. In Peter (From the Bible) it says 'You are not slaves, you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You're free to live as God's slaves. Show respect for everyone.

Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God and show respect to the King.' It's important that we develop an attitude where we have respect for people, respect for authorities, when we're in situations we'll respect cultures or different things that are going on. It's about treating people well.

And that's part of good character as well. We don't want to be people who go round being really offensive or really annoying. There are things about what we're going to do that are going to upset people, but let it be the truth that upsets people.

There are things in the Bible that we can't argue with: God is God, Jesus is the only way. That's what the Bible says, and it's true, and that offends a lot of people, which is ok. We can't water that down to be acceptable but we don't have to be obnoxious with it.

We can treat people with respect, we can love people. Jesus was really liked by the 'sinful' people; it was the religious people who got really upset with him. We don't want to go round being annoying when we're reaching people for Jesus, putting them off just because our character is a bit duff and we get angry and stroppy.

People will test that. I know, from the reaching out we've done, with really tough kids; they're going to do a lot of stuff to test your character. Attributes like patience and forgiveness will be tried and tested over and over again.

If someone's in your face and they're mouthing you off, you can't snap, you can't go down to their level and swear back at them and thump them - that just wouldn't be cool. It's the whole 'WWJD' thing he wouldn't do that! It's important that we have good character because that really helps us deliver the message.

Question: Do I show respect, or just demand it?

James Vaiphei contributes regularly to
The writer can be contacted at
This article was webcasted on 16th March 2006.

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