I was a teenager as I listened to my uncle on the telephone. As he responded, “yes sir and no sir” during the conversation, I drew a simple conclusion that he was talking to his boss. Given the level of politeness and deference on several other levels, it was clear that my initial conclusion was factually verified. After he hung up, I asked if it was his boss. “No sir, it was a young man who works for me.”
“Bill, it takes the same amount of effort to be sharp, harsh, and blunt as it does to be considerate and respectful. I have found that when I treat others as I want to be treated, wonderful things follow. They may be different than I expect, but they are always better than the alternative.”
The conversation has stayed with me for decades. I know my uncle did not always remember his advice, yet the wisdom of that moment touched me from the inside out. I recognize the impact of the generations before me playing out in my life and others. When I read how “Cornelius stared hard, wondering if he was seeing things. Then he said, 'What do you want, sir?'” (Acts 10.4) I know that he had no idea where this was going. In moments of doubt, always give another the respect you thirst for.
I look at the discourse around me – in the news, on the web – and I find that there is little respect on either side. I have no idea how anyone expects that things will get better if they fail to treat others as they expect to be treated. One cannot command love, one can only give and receive. On cannot demand respect, one can only give and receive. One cannot dictate a relationship; relationships always take at least two.
God invites us to be a member of Divinity's family. God offers us love, respect, and invitation to belong. We can offer God and the rest of the family the same. Today is our chance to make a difference.
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