The Art Of Respect

Friday, October 26, 2012
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Listen while you read: "We Give Thee But Thine Own"1 (Lyrics)

"Respect your elders." How many times I heard that growing up! I knew I should, but I didn't always want to.

My parents put forth great effort to teach me respect for them, family members, teachers, and other significant adults. As a teenager, I didn't always give it inwardly, but I tried to outwardly.

Joseph was a teenager when his jealous brothers sold him to Ishmaelite traders who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, a member of Pharaoh's personal staff.

Noticing his responsible nature, Potiphar soon elevated him to ruler of his entire estate. But Joseph had a problem. He was well-built and his physique soon caught the eye of Potiphar's wife who invited him to indulge in immoral sexual activities.

Joseph refused.

Genesis 39:9 – No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (NIV)

His refusal incurred scorn and false accusations, resulting in another trip to jail, but not before he had a chance to demonstrate his respect for respect.

Joseph worked for a foreign ruler but respected his authority over him. He could have easily covered up an affair with Potiphar's wife, but she was off-limits. Joseph even respected her in spite of her immoral enticements. Joseph respected the sanctity of marriage. It was not to be broken by unfaithfulness.

Joseph respected right and wrong and what God established in each category. Sin with Potiphar's wife was sin against the God he served.

When I was a 'seventies teen, respect for authority was in short supply, and I've noticed that the supply continues to dwindle. Breaking the cycle requires action from parents, grandparents, teachers, government officials, and everyone in general. Respect can be contagious, but to be caught, it must be taught.

Will you, like Joseph, take a stand, even if no one else does?

Prayer: Teach us, Lord, to respect those whom You place in authority over us as we attempt to set an example for those who look up to us. Amen.

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Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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