Respect not Respecter
(Act 10:34 KJV) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
I really believe that today’s message is one of the most important aspects of your Christian life. And let me go even a little further for the Non-Christian readers of these words, this message is one of the most important life lessons for every person breathing the breath of life. It goes so much deeper than just to say “don’t be prejudice.” It goes to the depths of how you perceive and treat everyone you come in contact with including your own family members and loved ones, your neighbor and even yourself.
God has a wonderful way of teaching us about ourselves through the way other people treat us. This message came out of my blunder with some hair dye. As many of you know I darkened my hair for an acting job a week or so ago. With that simple change I began to notice a big change in the way people addressed me. At first I thought it was just me. But then it became clear it really was the color of my hair.
You see I have been blonde my whole life. And there was even a time that I lightened my hair slightly more then it was for my acting career. But I had never really even thought of dyeing my hair black. So you can imagine how especially the people closet to me were somewhat shocked when they first saw me with this hair looking like Roy Orbison. I can honestly say that no one, and I mean no one liked it.
So I guess I felt somewhat self conscious about it. I mean I will be honest I am a vain person. I care about what other people think of me. I want to be clean and well dressed, and well groomed. I certainly do not want to be looked down upon for my appearance. So with all the negative comments I was feeling a little… well self conscious.
Then the weirdest thing started happening. It first happened in the bank on Monday morning. I usually go into the bank to my by business and think nothing of it. This time the bank teller was like… treating me with …. I don’t know…it was weird…. She was treating me with respect. I very rarely get treated with much of that, even in the bank. I didn’t think too much of it, maybe she was a Christian and noticed the name “Pastor” on my check. But then people at the store were calling me “sir” and looking at me in the eye… weird.
And I realize that it could just be me, standing a little taller, or presenting my self with a little more dignity. But after a while I forgot all about my hair being a different color. But the fact is I was being treated different. That got me thinking about how we all treat people differently by even the subtlest differences in their appearance.
And if you are already saying “Not me, I treat everyone the same….” I’m sorry; you’re just lying to yourself. Think about two families. The first young couple comes into your house and they are well dressed with their hair well groomed and they have nice straight brilliantly white teeth. They have two children, a boy and a girl. Both the children are in nice clean clothes, with smiling faces, they sit quietly playing with one another as their parents talk to you……
Now, the next family comes in and they are about the same age as the first but they look a lot older. Their clothes are old and dirty; their hair looks like it hasn’t been washed or a comb gone through it in a week. They open their mouth and they are missing tow or three teeth and their breath makes you take a step back. Then their brood comes in. Two of the shabbiest looking children you have ever seen. You really can’t tell which one is the boy and which one is the girl because they are both dressed in dirty old clothes and neither one have had a hair cut their entire lives…..
If you are honest with yourself you will see how you might… just might treat the first family with a little more respect than the second. You might spend a little more time with them rater then trying to get them out of your office as soon as you can. You might trust them a little bit more with any business transaction that might take place between you….
Now, I realize that there is a difference between discretion and discrimination, but sometimes that line can get a little fuzzy and for some… not you of course…. The other people who we know that really need to read this…. They boldly go from discretion to discrimination without a thought.
And that is really the extreme. What we do not notice is the little things, like if we prefer blondes over brunettes, or if we like thin people more then people with… shall we say… a little meat on their bones.
OK, I think you got the idea. So the first thing I want us to know it that God is not a respecter or persons. In the passage of scripture above Peter is having the first encounter with taking the gospel to the gentiles.
Looking at the Original language we can learn a little more about what God is telling us here.
The Greek word translated “respecter of persons” is:
It comes from two words the first meaning someone’s face or their countenance. The second means to accept fully.
In other words you accept fully who the person is simply by the way they look.
You might remember reading how man sees the outward want but God sees the heart of man…
(1Samuel 16:7 KJV) But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
That was when Samuel was anointing David as king over his six bothers all of which were taller and stronger and better looking. Again and again throughout scripture we are instructed not to Judge people by their appearance, we are told how God does not hold one person above another because of their race, or their income, or whether thy are a man or a woman, old or young….
The commandment that Christ gives us is repeated throughout the Bible:
(John 13:34 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
What we have to know is that the word for love there is not, a brotherly, easy to do love. It is “agape.” It is that unconditional, no matter what, no matter who; love your enemy kind of love.
We as Christians, no, we as humans have got to get past the prejudices and the judgmental spirit of separation.
Hear is just a couple of passages where we are told over and over the importance of agape, loving our fellow man:
(John 13:35 KJV) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
(Romans 12:10 KJV) Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
(Romans 13:8 KJV) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
(1Thessalonians 3:12 KJV) And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
(1Peter 1:22 KJV) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
(1John 4:7 KJV) Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
And we could go on and on…. Do you know what God repeats himself so often? Because he is trying to get it through our thick heads…. I do not care how long you have been waking with the LORD. I do not care how good of a person you think you are. I do not care how liberal or conservative you are. No matter who you are, we all need to learn this lesson and love one another. Stop being so quick to judge someone. Stop treating rich people different than poor people. Stop looking down on other people in a vain attempt to make yourself feel superior.
And that brings me to this very important point. You know how you judge other people? I mean the way I have been talking about, preferring one hair color over another, or thin people over heavy people, or young people over old, or blue eyes over brown, or this or that?.....
Did you realize that you are just as hard if not harder on yourself? That golden rule of treating people as you would have them treat you does not really work so well if you treat yourself badly. It is hard to love someone else if you do not love yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are a wonderful person, and God loves you just the way you are. Yes, just the way you are, even with all your flaws and faults and shortcomings and failures. Give yourself a break. Try instead of looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing the some old you, look at yourself with the eyes of a loving God who would and did do anything for you. I mean think about, all of existence is in perfect balance for you. God loves you, love yourself. Forgive yourself. Open your heart and except God’s love. It is the only way you are going to be able to express that love to anyone else.
The funny thing is the more you really, and I mean really start waling in the love of God, the more you start taking c are of how you look. And the more you take care of how you look the more you treat other people with respect. And the more you treat other people with respect the more respect other people start showing you.
So yes, this is perhaps the most important massage of Christianity. And it the most important message of Humanism. It is the most important message because of the fact that God is love. We all need more of God. We all need more love. The best way to get love is to give love. If you have never really asked God to come into your heart then right now can be a new beginning for you. Jesus is standing at the door of your heart and is knocking. If you will just open your heart and let Him in, the truth of His love will set you free to experience love like you have never known and give you the heart of love to share with those your really already love.
Too often even us… “spiritual giants”… (I say jokingly) need to take a good look at the love in our hearts. We need to look at the way we are treating the people around us. God loves both the rich as well as the poor; He loves the sinner lost in addiction as well and the goody two shoes, who holds her head up too high to see the ground she is waking on. God loves the pagan and the moslem and the buddhist and yes even the scientologist. And perhaps the strangest and hardest of all….. God loves you.
So I am asking a couple of things from you this week. I am challenging you to look at the way you treat everyone and make a real effort to treat everyone with love and respect. Secondly I am challenging you to look at your self with God’s eyes and respect yourself and accept His love. You are a fantastic human being. You are so special; there is no one else like you in the entire world. Embrace your uniqueness.
So yes, I am working on lightening my hair back up, but in the mean time I am enjoying the little extra respect that people are giving me… Imagine if I was a couple of inches taller… HUMM… maybe I’ll try some of those lifts in my shoes…… Just kidding.. Be yourself and hold your hear high. You are the Child of the King of Kings. Accept His love. Be His love!!!!
May God richly bless you and continue to make you a blessing to so many others….. Have a great week.