United Presbyterian Church of West Orange


Elder Sally Byrnes
May 29, 2016

Let us pray: 


Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.







When Ann Marie asked me to be a lay preacher, I said, OK, but only if I liked the scripture for that Sunday.

But Becca said it didn’t matter, I could preach on whatever touched me.


Since its Memorial Day weekend, I first thought about our Veterans and what they have sacrificed for our freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of expression and to me, the freedom to worship my God without fear.







I then thought about bullying since that is a subject close to my heart, especially for my son and granddaughters.  All three are special needs, but you can’t see a disability.  So they are called lazy or stupid or dumb and the parents are looked upon as bad parents who can’t control their children.


But bullying didn’t start here; it is all over the Bible.  It comes in the form of oppression, such as slavery or as you heard a week or so ago, being attacked by a crowd like Paul and Silas. It’s name calling, or being rude or ignoring someone who is different, or not stepping in to help when someone needs you.


Many think that bullying is strictly a youth and children’s issue, but it occurs with adults as well.  Bullying can be defined as using power to put someone else down.  But then this all comes down to RESPECT. RESPECT for all!


We’ve all heard the song, R-E-S-P-E-C-T; find out what it means to me.  Well, I looked up the definition of respect and found this:  “Respect is one of the most (if not the most) important attributes for society to maintain, yet it is hard to define.



 On its broadest level respect is the acknowledgement that someone has value.  The importance of this value is that it changes people’s reactions towards you, usually in a positive way.”


I know what you are thinking…everyone started thinking about Rodney Dangerfield and how he never got any respect!!.  But I think that more people feel this way than you know.


According to the Bible, we should strive to be people who are respectable. We should live lives worthy of respect.  You know, Do unto others as you would have them do to you.


But respect doesn’t come from a position, a title, age or even experience.  Respect is something you earn.  It doesn’t just come to you.  YOU NEED TO EARN IT!!.  Here are some principles to help you along the way:







1)  First, you need to respect yourself.  Joyce Brothers said:  “Don’t always try to be popular.  It isn’t possible for everyone to like you.  It’s far more important to like yourself. And when you respect yourself, strangely, you get more respect than if you court if from others.”


How do you respect yourself?  Well, you start by recognizing who you are.  You are created by God, in God’s image.  God loves you and places value in you.  You have talents and abilities.  Maybe you’ve made it a habit to deny them and to beat up on yourself, but if you’re going to respect yourself it means that you’re going to appreciate the gifts and talents that you have.


2) You need to earn the trust of others.  Be real, be authentic, be honest.  Don’t try to pretend you are perfect, because you and I know you aren’t.  “Judge not lest ye be judged.” You also have to keep confidentiality.  Don’t be a blabbermouth.  And be reliable.  If you want peoples’ trust, be on time, do what you say you will do and finish what you start.






3) Contribute to the lives of others.  Give people a boost, encourage them. Let them know you believe in them and see value in them.  Just a smile at the right time is a sign of encouragement.  That little investment can change a person’s outlook on life.


4)  Take responsibility for yourself.  As much as you try to be a person of respect, there are times when you will act out of character and mess up. I know I do! Don’t blame others for your mistake. OWN IT!


In ending, I’d like to quote a song by Garth Brooks called “The Change”,


“One hand reaches out and pulls a lost soul from harm, while a thousand more go unspoken for.  They say what good have you done by saving just this one.  It’s like whispering a prayer in the fury of a storm.

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things and no matter what you do it’s still the same thing.  But it’s not the world that I am changing; I do this so this world will know that it will not change me.


This heart still believes that love and mercy still exist, while all the hatreds rage and so many say that love is all but pointless in madness such as this. It’s like trying to stop a fire with the moisture from a kiss.


As long as one heart still holds on, then hope is never really gone.  I hear them saying you’ll never change things, and no matter what you do it’s still the same thing.  But it’s not the world that I’m changing.  I do this so this world we know NEVER CHANGES ME.


My son wrote how this song made him feel:


“There is already so much wrong with the world, I don’t want to add to that.  ‘It doesn’t matter how small a part you play, it ALL matters.  Nothing we do in this world goes unnoticed.  You never know what kind of impact you are going to have on someone.”


So I encourage you to value these principles and use them as a guide to become a person of respect.


May it be so.  Alleluia, Amen.