Mankind has tremendous capacity to surprise. Perhaps I have become disillusioned living in proximity to a sizable city where manners and courtesy are in short supply. Gracious grammar has been replaced with curt and casual replies. “Thank you” has been replaced with “no problem”. “I’m sorry, that was my fault” is now “my bad”. The lack of respect is most apparent while commuting. That experience can range from frustrating to downright terrifying. My preference is for a more peaceful rural existence. My reality is a compromise in the suburbs.
Some faith in humanity was restored this past weekend. On September 25, 2021 we laid a beloved cousin to rest. Scott Alan Gibson passed away unexpectedly on September 21, at forty-eight years of age, following a heart attack which he experienced at work. A multitude of his coworkers and friends, as well as Scott’s sizable family, attended the viewing and service. The service has held at Addy Funeral Home in Newcomerstown, Ohio. The Addy family grew up with the Gibson family in this small town and sadly, have handled many of their final arrangements as well. Empathy and kindness come with a small community.
How does one come to receive this outpouring of appreciation? In Scott’s case, it was a positive attitude in difficult circumstances. Scott was born with only one kidney which did not function well. Despite two transplants and a lifetime of related health concerns, he never complained. He loved life. He loved family and he loved his Lord. Scott worked hard with difficult hours to provide a living for his family. His integrity and sense of humor won the hearts of his coworkers.
Scott was laid to rest in West Lafayette, Ohio. A sizable procession went to the graveside service. Newcomerstown Police led the way. Every vehicle along the route pulled over and stopped in respect until the final vehicle passed. Drivers old and young, vehicles large and small, pickup trucks and a farm tractor, all waiting for us to pass. West Lafayette Police directed traffic at an intersection enroute to the cemetery. An officer stood at attention next to her cruiser in full salute. Scott was not a policeman or in the military. He was not a dignitary. To the officer he was simply a member of her community. In my mind she could not have offered a more fitting tribute to a fallen soldier of the cross. The gesture could not be more appreciated!
Society believes that respect must be earned. The truth is that it is learned. Our God demands it. He expected it of Cain. (Genesis 4) He codified it in the Law of Moses. “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD. And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. ‘The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:32-34 NKJV) These expectations required God’s people to be protective of and empathetic to family and stranger alike.
The gospel imposes additional conditions on our relationships. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;” (Romans 12:9-10 NKJV) “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV) “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17 NKJV)
Respect is born of genuine love and humility. Seeing ourselves as God sees us allows us to see and treat others in the same light.