Take a Bow
Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Show your fear of God by standing up in the presence of elderly people and showing respect for the aged. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32
WHEN YOU SEE a friend, you might wave and say, “Hi.” Or you might exchange high fives or low fives with a friend or group of friends. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you might shake that person’s hand. If you’re greeting your grandmother or your Aunt Zelda, you might even exchange hugs.
In Japan, however, people usually greet each other differently. Maybe you’ve seen several Japanese people meet and greet each other. They don’t wave. They don’t shake hands. They don’t exchange high fives. They don’t hug. They bow.
Sometimes they bow once; sometimes they bow several times. Sometimes they bow slightly, and sometimes they bow deeply. How many times they bow and how deeply they bow depend on a lot of things. One of the things that determines how low and how many times a person bows is how much older the other person is. In the Japanese culture, an older person deserves more respect, and so a young man greeting an elderly man will show his respect by the way he bows.
Now you don’t have to start bowing to your parents or grandparents. But you could take a few hints from the Japanese. You see, many people in our world don’t respect their elders. They think their parents and grandparents don’t know anything. They think that only young, pretty people are worthwhile. They think elderly people aren’t as smart or as important or as valuable as young people. But the Japanese don’t think so. And neither does God.
God commands all of us (not just the Japanese!) to treat older people with respect. He says that we should show respect for him “by standing up in the presence of elderly people and showing respect for the aged” (Leviticus 19:32).
God’s Word makes it clear that respect for our elders is right. It’s right to treat older people respectfully. Paul told Timothy, “Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father.” He also said, “Treat the older women as you would your mother” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). Because respect for your elders is right—even if you’re not Japanese.
REFLECT: Do you think it’s right to show respect for your elders? If so, why? Who are your elders? How can you show respect for them?
ACT: Surprise your parents, guardians, or grandparents today by greeting them with a low bow to show your respect for them. (You might want to have some smelling salts handy; they may faint from the shock!)
PRAY: “Father, I know that respect for my elders is right and that your Word even says that showing respect for the elderly is one way of showing respect for you. So please remind me to obey your Word and show my respect for you by showing respect for my elders.”