Paul Teaches Respect To Peter
Our slogan is “Respect begins with me. Peter forgot this point in the event recorded for us in Galatians 2:11-18. Peter was visiting in Antioch, the apostle Paul’s home congregation. It was a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles. Paul, a Jew himself, was the apostle sent by God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles while Peter’s primary work was among the Jews (Gal. 2:8-9). So long as Peter was there with no one he knew from Jerusalem, he fully fellowshipped the Gentile Christians (v. 12). But when someone from Jerusalem, who might report his actions back home, came to Antioch, Peter withdrew himself from the Gentile Christians. In so doing, he influenced other Jewish Christians, even Barnabas, to do the same.
Have we not seen similar violations of respect in our world? A boy or girl befriends someone in their neighborhood only to draw back after they find them to be disliked at school because of race, money, habits or some other prejudice. Quite often someone is focused upon in the jokes or gossip of the workplace. So as to be disrespected in the same way, others back away from have associations with that person. Boys and girls and men and women can be quite disrespectful and hurtful to others. Internet or text hazing, done by both kids and adults is extremely disrespectful. I am sure you can think of other similar situations.
In the case before us, disrespect began with Peter. Paul “withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed” (v.11) and because in showing such disrespect, Peter and the others, “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (v. 14). Consider some of the possible consequences of this disrespect:
- Peter’s action was a way to say to other Jews, we are better than Gentile Christians.
- Peter’s action could have brought both and emotional and physical division in the church at Antioch.
- Peter’s action could have supported Jewish Christians who already had sinful prejudice against the Gentiles.
- Peter’s action led others to be untrue to Christ.
- Peter’s action was hypocritical, a point that Paul made in his rebuke (v. 14-16).
- Peter and others could have lost their souls.
In this case, Paul did the right thing. Respect begins with me.
Our slogan this month is ‘Respect begins with me.’ Our study for today is the well known event of the healing of Naaman, the leper, found in 2 Kings 5. This is a microcosmic look into the results of both respect and disrespect in the lives of ordinary and the not so ordinary people. The ultimate result of respect and respect learned was that a man was healed of leprosy and another stricken with it. God received a follower and God’s reputation was enhanced. If you were to see yourself in the actions of any of these characters, which might it be?
- Naaman thought he deserved more respect than he felt Elisha showed to him. Have you ever been that character who thought that others were disrespectful to you? Maybe it was a driver on the road, a teller in the bank, a clerk at the store, your husband or wife or children. Naaman, who came to be healed, almost “cut off his nose to spite his face.” Our respect for others will always keep us from demanding respect for ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4). The respect we demand from our children or our employees is for their benefit (I hope), not our pride.
- Naaman’s servants acted with great respect for their master. With obvious affection for their master, they addressed him with a common term of endearment and respect when they said, “My father…” This same expression is used by Elisha toward Elijah in 2 Kings 2:12. Their respect is so obvious that what they say comes across, not as a rebuke or reproof (though both would have been in order), but more as a plea to not miss this opportunity. While Naaman was being his own worst enemy in receiving this healing, they patiently were respecting his well being. Such respect is taught by Paul to Timothy and we who wish to be servants of the Lord. Many are their own enemy in obtaining salvation, but we must respect their soul enough to patiently try to win them.
- Gehazi committed an act of foolishness in failing to respect the wishes of his master, Elisha. In this case, greed drove his disrespect. Has something you wanted (lust of the flesh, eyes or pride of life) ever driven you to take advantage of someone, be less than honest with someone or simply use someone’s goodness for your selfish purposes? All such is disrespectful.
- Namaan, by finally treating Elisha’s directions with respect, gained not only his health, but a completely new perspective about God (I like to believe he gained salvation). This is a great example of the importance of perspective. If we look at things God’s way (Matt. 5:48), we will have a respect for others that will benefit us and them.
- There are other lessons about respect to be gleaned in this event. Why don’t you brainstorm some of them with a friend or family member?
–Mike Glenn (e-bulletin 4-2)