It’s a horrible story, and thankfully everyone agrees on that point. Even the author of the book. Which is part of the reason the story is in there in the first place.

Read through the book of Judges and you will quickly recognize the pattern. There’s a consistency of details that runs through each story of the judges. Many commentaries liken it to a circle.

Instead of a circle, the better mental picture to have is a drain. When you read the book of Judges you need to think of water circling a drain. Because with each judge Israel doesn’t just begin the cycle again, Israel sinks a little lower. Each judge drags Israel down one more rotation, until finally, Israel hits rock bottom and becomes as evil as the people as she was sent to destroy.

The author of Judges uses this last story to vividly show Israel’s moral depravity as she is unfavorably compared to the people of Sodom. Which is an incredibly wicked city last seen in Genesis 19.

And while Israel’s great moral decline is displayed so is the amazing patience, mercy, and persistence of Israel’s God. Unlike the Sodomites, Israel is not destroyed only disciplined and slowly refined.

God is faith-ful even when His people are faith-less.

How great is our God!

Honestly, I still don’t like the story. BUT now I appreciate why the story is there. I understand its purpose and position in the Bible. Even the way the author handles the story I have come to appreciate.

Let me reiterate, I don’t like the story, that hasn’t changed. But I have learned to appreciate the story and its purpose.

Respect, appreciation for something I don’t like. An important lesson to learn.

But now let’s shift it a little, what about respect for someone or someone’s view point that I don’t like. Or maybe it’s a view point I simply don’t agree with.

And now for our second lesson from this story: As a society we desperately need to learn how to respect things and people we don’t like.

We live in a culture that feels it is ok to completely bash something or someone we don’t like. There’s no respect for those we disagree with and there’s no respect for ideas or positions that we don’t own. The only people worthy of respect are those who think and act just like me.

We think as long as we’re nice to people who have a different color we’re not prejudice. But what about the people who have the same color but different ideas as to how the world works? You can’t have dialogue if there isn’t respect. And if there’s no dialogue how do you grow, how do you learn? We need to be willing to respect those different than us, whether it’s a physical difference or viewpoint difference.

Respect comes easier when you like something or someone. Trust me, I struggle with this one as well. But it’s a sign of maturity when you can respect a person who sees the world differently and even interact politely with them.

You don’t have to agree with everyone and everything you come in contact with. That’s foolishness. But can we respect each person as made in the image of God? Can we respectfully disagree and thoughtfully discuss what we see differently? Is it ok for someone to see the world a little differently than we do?

I’m not talking about sin. What God says is wrong is wrong. Period. No discussion needed.

I’m talking about all the extra stuff right now that isn’t exactly right or wrong. Is it ok to disagree on that?

It’s time to mature a little, Church, and learn to respect each other again.