Summary: Real respect comes not in the palace, but in the place of selfless, sacrificial service.
A man was talking to his friends about their last child leaving home and coping with the empty-nest syndrome. He said, “The worst part about it is, that since the children left, my wife started treating me like a child.
He complained, “When we go to the grocery store and I reach for cereal, she slaps my hand and says, ‘We don't need that this week.’ Then I reach for the ice cream, and she slaps my hand, saying, ‘We don't need that this week.’ I reach for the potato chips, and again she slaps my hand and says, ‘We don't need that this week.’ I finally get so frustrated I hop out of the basket and go to the car!” (Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky)
What did he expect? When a man behaves like a child, he gets treated like a child. So how does one get treated like an adult? How do we get the respect we’re looking for? How do we gain true honor not only in our families, but also in the community? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Philippians 2, Philippians 2, where God describes two honorable men.
Philippians 2:19-21 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Timothy was a selfless man. When Paul asked for volunteers to travel to Philippi, Timothy was the only one willing to go. Everyone else was too busy with their own interests (vs.21). Timothy, alone, was willing to set his own interests aside to serve Christ.
Why? Because he genuinely cared for people. Verse 20 says, He “was genuinely concerned. It’s the same word used in Philippians 4:6, where it says, “Do not be ANXIOUS about anything.” Timothy was ANXIOUS about the Philippian Believers. His concerns about them distracted him from his own work. When he tried to take care of his own affairs, his mind was drawn in a different direction to Philippi. In fact, the word literally means, to be drawn in different directions (VINE).
Timothy was a selfless man, who couldn’t stop thinking about the needs of others. He put others’ interests above his own. And if we want to gain true honor, if we want to earn real respect, then we too must
We must be unselfish in our daily pursuits. We must put the interests of others above our own, even to the point of self-distraction.
A couple of years ago (2014), Ravi Zacharias contrasted two events in the news. First, he talked about a fire that broke out during an Air Canada flight from Dallas to Toronto a few years previously. The pilot began a dramatic and sudden descent, knowing he had but a few moments to land if any were to survive. As soon as they opened the door for rescue, the whole aircraft, sucking in the oxygen, turned into an inferno. There were some fatalities and some suffered burns, but because of the captain’s skill and the crew's commitment, many were rescued. The captain was the last one to leave the burning airplane. He was pulled through the window with his uniform one fire, but he deserved the tearful and heart-filled commendation he received as someone who put others before himself.
Contrast that with what happened in April of that year (2014). Then, a ferry in Seoul, South Korea, capsized, killing hundreds. Most of the passengers were high school students who ultimately drowned while waiting for instructions to abandon ship. The captain himself had fled the sinking ship and made sure he was safe on dry ground, prompting a chorus of condemnation from the loved ones of those lost. The teacher who had organized the trip took his own life, feeling that he had no right to be alive while most of his students perished. Even the prime minister of South Korea offered to resign because of the tragedy. No celebration here, no commendation of a brave man; just a series of wrong decisions that resulted in the ultimate wrong decision of a man who put himself first. (Ravi Zacharias, "Fatherhood's Call to Duty," Christianity Today, 6-13-14; www.PreachingToday.com)
The captain who acted selfishly only brought shame upon himself and others. The captain who acted selflessly was rightly commended for his actions.
It’s really the only way any of us gain respect and honor wherever we are – in the home, on the job, or at school. It comes when we put the needs of others before ourselves. Do you want to find true honor? Then be selfless. More than that…