‘And They All Stood Up’
By DANNY MINTON
Leaning on the bookcase next to my desk stands a Ted Williams #1725 Little League Approved Sears, Roebuck, and Co. 29-inch wooden ash baseball bat. I picked it up at an antique store a few years ago for $20. It’s worth more than what I paid, but that’s not the reason that I purchased it. The bat represents the exact bat that I used playing Little League ball, even the length that I used. I used it until it cracked, and my coach gave it to me. I took it home, put a few nails in it, and wrapped it with black tape. I continued using it until this time it broke in half.
It’s strange how sometimes when you look at one thing, it reminds you of something completely different. Looking at the bat, it reminded me of my years in seventh grade. One day we were sitting in music class and our teacher, Mrs. Carpenter, I believe, began playing “God Bless America” on the piano. We sat and listened when she stopped playing and quietly asked us, “What do you do?” and then began playing again. Then I think Ray Ellis, one of my friends who has since passed away, stood up. The rest of the class followed while Mrs. Carpenter smiled. She had taught us to respect our country and what it stands for.
Respect seems like something that we have forgotten over the years. My parents taught my brothers and me to respect women. When we dated, we went to the door to pick up our dates. We opened the car door for them before and after and walked them to the door. We do treat them respectfully. I remember as times began to change, our sister had a date who drove up to the house and honked the horn. My brother and I wouldn’t let her go until her date got out of the car and came to the door to pick her up. They taught us to respect.
It’s sad as we view people today how respect for how we treat people has deteriorated. Events and actions of our elected officials have caused people to lose respect for so many. Teachers share how many students today show no respect. It’s heartbreaking to hear so many being ready to quit teaching. Look online, and you’ll find story after story of waiters and salespeople who have been treated disrespectfully by customers. We see it every day with people who don’t respect the laws or rights of other people.
What about God? What about his Word? Have we lost respect for both Him and what he asks us to do? There’s a passage in the book of Nehemiah that affects me every time I read it. “Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up.” Nehemiah 8:5 (NIV2011) It was an automatic response. No one said, “Let’s rise.” No one asked, “What do you do?” God’s word opened in their presence, and “the people all stood up.” Not only did they stand up, but they also came back day after day to listen to the Words of God. The respect shown surpasses by far the respect I see in our world today when it comes to God and His Word. I can picture it in my mind, an automatic response of respect.
God is not going to judge us by how we look on the outside. Even though I may wear a coat and tie to worship, it makes me no better than the one who wears blue jeans and a T-shirt. A woman dressed in a delicate dress is no better than the fashion of a pair of jeans with holes in them. Those are things to which we as humans pay attention. God once told Samuel as he searched for a new King to follow Saul, “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.’ But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:6-7 (NIV2011)
God is going to look at us and how we respect both Him and His Word. He wants to see how we carry out His two greatest commands, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV2011)
So, what does a baseball bat, music class, and God all have in common? We can lose respect, but with a few nails of kindness and a little tape of self-control, we can learn to mend our ways. Sometimes it’s difficult, and we often have to have someone remind us, “What do you do?” The best way to show God our respect for Him is to mend our ways, stand up, and make sure that we never forget those two commandments.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ