Christianity And Courtesy
What has happened to GOOD manners. One answer that I heard given (in bad manners) by a young man was: “When God was passing out manners, I thought he said nanners (bananas) and I ate them.” I suppose that is as good excuse as any for not practicing simple courtesy to those around us. What has happened to politeness? How long has it been since you heard in any manner of regularity children and the younger generation say “yes, ma’am and no ma’am” or “yes sir or no sir” to those of older generations? I, for one, am convinced that the lack of courtesy in our generation is paralleled to our rejection of and departure from God and Bible principles of kindness and respect one for another. Let us consider several scriptures that teach courtesy, good manners, to those around us.
“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Phil. 2:2-4) First consider the likeness of the character of God and Christ (Phil. 2:5-9) in the previous three verses. First there is the godly characteristic of not being a respecter of persons because of their circumstance in life. There is the characteristic of being humble. Third, there is the putting of others ahead of oneself. Applying the principle of thinking on the things of others you have a number of lessons. They would include not pushing ahead of others in lines, and letting others go in a door before you. It would be showing courtesy to those with different types of handicaps, including the frailties of those who are older in life. Guess, what if you live that long one day that will be you! I have seen those older caused to be hurt because of young people, from 2 to 32 not showing the good manners to be careful around them.
Paul in Romans 12:10-21 repeats many of the same principles found in Philippians 2. I will speak more of this scripture in a later point. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) Think of all the applications of showing good manners that can be found in this scripture. Do you want others being rude to you? Do you want others to be disrespectful to you? Do you want others to be ugly to you, or un-thoughtful? The answer to all these questions would be no, why then should we treat others in these ways. Do we have any right to be offended when others are rude to us, if we are discourteous to others.
In the opening of this article I said that I believe courtesy has suffered because of a rejection of God and the teachings of His word. Regretfully all bad manners are NOT found in the world. The effects of the world’s departure from God have also filtered into the Lord’s church.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul speaks to the need of unity and courtesy in the Lord’s body. Many of the problems that exist in the church come from a failure to practice God’s will in our lives in the form of bad manners. Philippians 2 is written to the church. Ephesians 6:1-4 is written to the church. It deals with good manners and respect of family members in the home including a command that goes all the way back to the ten commandments, “honor your father and your mother .” I mentioned Romans 12 earlier. The instructions given there were for members of the Lord’s church. If Bible courtesy was applied by all members of the church a large percentage of problems in the church would disappear. The principles of Ephesians 4:31-32 would be included and the characteristics of love 1 Corinthians 13 and the characteristics of a child of God, Colossians 3:12-15.
We cannot erase all of the bad manners in the world, but we can help by setting the example of courtesy as members of the church. Say, “thank you and please” take the tine to show some courtesy to a stranger that could use a kindly deed, surprise your parents by saying “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” and “please” and “thank you” (after you help them up off the floor) you might be surprised at the rewards you would get, beginning with a personal feeling of fulfillment. Truly, we can say courtesy is taught by the scriptures.