The Lost Tokens of Deference
Posted on September 6, 2023 by Elizabeth Welte in Freedom Fighters
“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” – James 2:2-4 (NKJV)
I was never one to just obey whatever anyone told me I had to obey. Oh, don’t get me wrong, as a child the fear of punishment made me obey what I was told. But as time, would soon tell even that wasn’t a serious deterrent because I just got use to the whippin’s, that simple. Besides, doesn’t the word “obey” sound vulgar? It’s like that other word that makes my inner core shake with disdain, “comply.” Now, we could go for “you better do as your told,” but what if the person telling me to do something doesn’t understand anything about what they’re ordering me to do? Hmmm…well, now that I’m a bit older, and wisdom has done its work, I prefer to do things out of a sense of deference. Now that’s an action word I can get behind.
“Submission or courteous yielding to the opinion of another; courteous respect” is the dictionaries definition of the word deference. Some of us may display this as a simple removing of one’s hat when they enter a home that they’ve been invited to. Maybe giving up your seat on the bus for someone who looks like they could use a seat. How about the infamous holding the door open at the local Wawa for someone you don’t know; or the countless other courteous things that get passed along in a day. Now don’t go thinking that I’m this fine example of a deferring-kinda guy ‘cause I got my moments where me and deference part ways, and when that happens, “you’re being rude” will be the following statement. What a wretched man I can be.
But we also live in an America that has been raised up to be pretty informal with a lot of things. As for some for those shenanigans that we’re seeing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Well as much as they may wanna appeal to the common man with all of that, some of it is just them “being rude.” This is a long way from the days when Jimmy Carter wore jeans in the Oval Office, or the lack of a suit and tie during the Obama administration. I personally don’t object to either, but in the Oval Office? In a very Romans 13 way, that chair behind the Resolute desk cost others their lives, the least we can do is show it the respect that it is due.
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” – Hebrews 13:17
Even though the word deference isn’t mentioned in Scripture the concept of it is, and it can be found described in both Testaments, because it is an important virtue to the Christian character. In Matthew 23:10-12, Jesus will point out the importance of deferring one’s self for the sake of others. Basically, the heart of many says we like the praise and distinction that elevates us above others but really, we ain’t nothing but a bunch coveting people wanting to take advantage of those who praise us or be the one that directs and controls opinions. The vexation for many is that in order to truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have to maintain the humble heart that knows how to defer without regret to those it willingly serves…even if your service to them isn’t received well.
My opening verse also speaks to what the wrong kind of deference looks like. If what I said early about the definition of the word deference has any meaning at all then being yielding to those who have much is easy, because they expect it, but for those of us who don’t have much, we’re use to being treated in way that says we ain’t nothing but ________ (you fill in the blank), so the back of the church is really easy to get use to (or so you think). I attend a church that pretty much has no issue with who wears what, so long as we are united in Christ, you can sit comfortably in your suit and tie while I chill in shorts and a polo shirt.
Every morning, I believe God gives us tokens of deference to give to others and they aren’t yours to keep, period. Every morning you gotta go to Him, open His word, and pray to receive more. So, if you’re complaining about the state of things around us why not check your own pockets and see how many tokens you have saved for yourself. Chances are you’ve stored up a few tokens that don’t belong you and just may belong to someone who needs you to get off your seat on the bus, take your hat off, and open the door for them at the local WaWa. You may only get a “thanx” for your trouble from them, but what you’ll get from El Elyon just might be way better.
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a child of El Elyon, a son, a husband, and a father. He has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy, 11/2003. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at email@example.com.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Hebrews 8:10