I was raised in a family that believed in respect for our elders. I called my grandparents by their surnames, and no matter how old I get, I still usually refer to members of generations older than mine as sir or ma’am – I hold doors for people and try to show respect for workers and others in general. Sometimes I am amazed at the way younger folks tend to not think the same way, but in general, respect and manners seem to be something from the past. At the dinner table, I had to be asked to be excused and I would still be sitting at my grandfather’s Sunday dinner table if I had failed to ask for permission to leave and work on homework, watch TV or any of the other things I did after our traditional family dinner was completed.
Conversely, Janet and I were at the movies last Friday evening and as we left the theatre, a group of high school folks were milling around, blocking our exit to the sidewalk. Janet was just in front of me and as she headed through the outer doors and turned toward our car, the group split apart and made a path allowing us to proceed. As I walked past a teenage boy, he wished us a good evening and then asked to be paid for making conversation with us as we passed. I couldn’t believe it. At first I thought he was kidding, but the more I thought about it, I believe that he was fishing to see what would happen. He started to follow us to the car, and for a split second I was concerned for our safety – but it was a well lit area and any fleeting thought about his intentions were quickly dispelled.
But the fact is that the older we get, the more I marvel at the lack of respect from most of the younger folks I run into. But today, I had an encounter that was surprising to me and in fact, I actually broke into a smile and started to laugh.
I was going to a 9:00 am meeting and on the way, I passed the Carmel post office. Expecting some important mail, I decided to make a quick detour and check our box. I parked, headed into the building and checked for mail. Nothing……. So I moved toward the door and arrived there at the same time an elderly gentleman was about to leave. My manners kicked in, as they usually do, and I motioned for the man to exit in front of me. We exchanged pleasantries, but he refused to go first. I insisted, then he insisted that I go first.
I looked at him with a somewhat perplexed expression and he offered one of the nicest, and funniest, explanations I have ever heard. He said that he was old and on social security – furthermore, I looked younger than he did, and he assumed I was still working. That meant that I was contributing to his retirement and he wanted to make sure that I knew he appreciated my contribution to his financial stability. He thought that one of the ways that he could show his appreciation was to show respect for those folks who he depended on for his retirement. These acts of kindness reflected the best way he could thank others. I couldn’t believe it. And he wasn’t being funny – he was dead serious. We I don’t think something like this has ever happened to me before. But it made a great story and I immediately thought that it would make a great post for this evening.
The verse for tonight is really a benediction. It speaks of the different generations and how God transcends time, capable of doing anything He desires. Although most benedictions signify the end of writings in the Bible, tonight’s verse was a pause in action between sections of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. From Eph. 3:20-21, Paul reminds us, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Did you catch that last part? Throughout all generations!
And so tonight, my encouragement is to remind you that you and I are representatives of our own generations. And the tenets of Christianity don’t differentiate between age groups. So even though modern society may dictate that respect is not the norm of the day, as believers we are expected to act with dignity and respect toward all humanity. My prayer is that you will model a behavior that shows that you value life and what God is accomplishing in all the generations – those past and those yet to come. Have a great day in the Lord.