Saturday, August 24, 2013

Es past nisht

There is a Jewish phrase that some parents will use with their children when they do something wrong.  It says, “Es past nisht”.  Literally translated it means ‘this does not become you’.  It tells the child that he/she isn’t bad but that they are, indeed, too good to be doing something beneath them.  By telling children that they are inherently bad, we teach them that no matter what they pursue in life, they are bad at the core.  But the opposite is true – they are GOOD at the core.  Some of the things they do are wrong and the learning happens when they realize they are better than the wrong they are doing.

Where is your self-respect?  How do you show yourself respect and, in turn, show your children and/or those around you?  To fully understand the word translated as respect, we must consider cultural context.

In Luke 20:13 we read, “…and the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

The Greek word here for respect is entrepomai which really doesn’t convey the power of the decision being made here.  What the father is counting on is the shame associated with the people to whom he is sending his son. The people ultimately kill the son but the father was hoping that the public disgrace that continued violence would bring upon them, might trump their need for violence.  It doesn’t.  They don’t care about public disgrace.  This verse is as powerful to us today as it was to the original audience.  The question concerns our shame, not our respect for God’s only Son. 

Once the decision is made for the violence to continue they not only disrespect that father, they no longer have the basic emotions that are humanity.  In fact, their own integrity is gone and in this act they reject forgiveness and confirm a loss of humanity.  They have lost all sense of shame.

The acts of violence did not become them.  As our acts of wrong-doing do not become us.  We are made to be mirror images of our Creator yet we openly reject the forgiveness of God by continuing on in our wrong-doings.  We fail to show respect to our Father or to ourselves.  We bring shame upon ourselves – our acts do not become us.

I have seen what the trappings of wrong-doings can do to a person.  It first eats away at the inner self and the person works harder and harder to make sure this rot doesn’t come to the surface.  But soon it does.  You can see it in their behavior, in the way they talk, in their appearance – in the way they lack respect for themselves, for humanity, and ultimately for the Creator. 

Is it time you hear God our Father say to you, “Es past nisht”?  Is there something you are doing or a way you are thinking that really does not become the YOU that the Creator originally designed? 

I like how Marcus Aurelius puts it, “never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”

Bring honor to God and honor to your family and community by respecting yourself.  And always ask, “Does this become me?”

My father said to me many times growing up, “never do anything you wouldn’t want to be caught dead doing”.  Wow – that conjures up some powerful images, doesn’t it?  He would always follow it by saying, “remember who and who’s you are”.  

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