“Rise in the presence of the aged; show respect for the elderly
…I am the Lord” Leviticus 19:32
I have mentioned before how I was taught the social graces as a child. Never would I dare address an adult by their given name. I let them speak first. I was to stand when an adult entered the room and if necessary offer them my seat. After they were seated I would sit down again. Even now, when a woman enters the room, I stand until she is seated.
Our world today knows little of such behaviour. This might cause some to miss the importance of our text and the actions of people recorded in Scripture. God taught His people that to honour someone you stand when they come into your presence.
It may seem a small thing to do, yet in some Scriptures it becomes a very significant action. For example when we read of the first martyr in the early church, Stephen, it says in Acts 7:55 that Stephen saw Jesus standing at the Father’s right hand. Various times we are told that Jesus was seated at the Father’s right hand but this is the only place where He is standing at the Father’s right hand.
When Stephen is about to leave this world and enter heaven he sees Jesus standing to greet him. So we see Jesus honouring His child as he moves from one world to the next. Jesus wishes to make Stephen welcome and respected so He stands to greet His servant.
If Jesus would rise to greet Stephen would He not show similar honour to the rest of His people as they enter heaven?
This honour from Jesus is not something everyone values today. In His own day, Jesus said, “…they loved praise from men more than praise from God” John 12:43 (NIV). Some people are more concerned that their actions attract the attention of their friends and neighbours than that their behaviour meets with the approval of God.
Jesus spoke of these people in Matthew 6:5 where it reads, “…the hypocrites…love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” |(NIV).
The point Jesus makes here is that those who pray in order to be seen by people are indeed seen by people and not God. They are only interested in impressing their peers and not God. So God ignores them.
However, it is a very dangerous thing to be ignored by God. What is your motive for living as you do in this world? Do you care if people see you or not? Or do you seek approval from your Creator? The only way we can gain approval from God is to honour His Son. To honour Jesus is to accept His teaching that He is the only way to God and we need to come to our Maker through him. Do you honour Jesus this much? Does God honour you?