“And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”
As of the writing of this devotional, I pastor the Maranatha Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma. For several years prior to my becoming the pastor of this great church, I was a full-time evangelist. I preached at MBC nearly every year that I was an evangelist. Imagine if while I was preaching one of my meetings in this church that I would have been curt, condescending, or hateful towards the people, there is little doubt in my mind that I would be the pastor of this great church today. Had I burned by bridges with the people while I held revival meetings in the church, they would not have voted me in to be their pastor. It was treating them right, and my predecessor right that allowed me the opportunity to pastor such a great church.
Israel came to Jephthah when they were facing the invasion of the mighty Ammonite army, and asked him to become their captain to lead them against this army. Jephthah said in verse 7, “Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?” The brethren of Jephthah had burnt their bridges with him when he was younger and had it not been for the goodness of Jephthah’s heart, Israel would have been without a captain to deliver them from the children of Ammon. In this story, there are several reminders that we should remember about the importance of our treatment of others.
First, everybody deserves to be treated with respect. These men didn’t treat Jephthah with respect because he was the son of a harlot. They didn’t want Jephthah in their midst because of what his mother had done that allowed him to be born. It matters not what the background, education, financial status, or sins a person has done in the past; everyone should be treated with respect. Just because someone doesn’t meet your criteria of what everyone is supposed to be like doesn’t mean that they should be treated with disrespect. The only reason someone disrespects another is because they have no respect for God, others, or for themselves. Treating people with respect is the descent and right thing to do.
Second, treating someone right may come back to bless you in the future. You never know when you are going to need someone; therefore, if you treat everyone with respect, you will never burn your bridges with a person who might be able to help you in the future. The person you think will never be a help to you at any time in your life just may be the person whom God uses in the future to help you out of a tight spot. What if you disrespect that person and treat them wrongly? Do you think they will ever want to help you? My friend, the person whose path you come across today, just may be the person who will help you in the future. Treating everyone as if they will be a future boss or a person who will help you in the future will keep you treating everyone with respect and dignity.
Third, you had better do your best to repair the burnt bridges before those burnt bridges come back to haunt you. Everyone has mistreated someone in the past, but the best thing you can do is to get things right with those whom you have mistreated because you never know when you will need their help. Even if you don’t ever need their help, getting things right with those whom you have wronged or mistreated will help you to live life with a clear conscience.