Devotion in Motion: Respect begins with words

35 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. ~ Matthew 12:35-36 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

The world we live in today has developed a bad habit; there’s a great deal of ugliness, unkindness, and downright meanness. You only have to glance at the nightly news, political discourse, or prime time television to see  it.

When I was a child in the 1960s, the networks used to run public service announcements for the National Conference for Christians and Jews. Their slogan made an impression on me: “Brotherhood Begins with Respect.” That’s not just a cliché. That’s the truth. The world will never be filled with love and brotherhood until people began to treat one another with simple, basic respect.

I’ve made the most amazing discovery living in the Deep South — a place famous for its “Southern hospitality.” Brotherhood begins with respect, and respect begins with the way we speak to one another. Respect even has a shorthand. It sounds a little old-fashioned, but if you want to instantly make it clear to a person that you value them, address them as “sir” or “ma’am.” It’s hard for a person to hate you if you answer them with a quiet and sincere “Yes, sir” or “Please, ma’am.”

In the 12th chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, Jesus teaches that our words come directly from our hearts and show the spiritual condition of our souls. He concludes the passage by saying, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37) Let’s ask the Lord to fill our hearts with His love so our words can be beautiful as well. Beautiful words are a fitting start to a day — and hopefully, a more beautiful world.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 32 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He recently retired after 28 years as a Mississippi public schoolteacher, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa with his new grandson, Landon Cash. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town. Their kids include Spencer (age 26), his wife Madeline (age 26), and Seth (23), and his wife Leanne (age 22). You can send him a note at