Friday, March 24, 2006

40-Days to Servanthood: Day 20

Don’t overlook the rendering of common courtesy.

In Titus 3:2, the apostle Paul advises that we, “show every courtesy to everyone.”

I suppose most of us think that we’re mannerly folk. We also think, as British humorist Lynne Truss observes in her book, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door, that when we are rude, we’re simply having bad days. But when others are rude, we believe that their rudeness displays deep, ongoing flaws in their characters.

Common courtesy is far more than a disposable social convention. Good manners are the most common way you and I display love toward our neighbors--even the neighbors in our own homes--and honor God (Matthew 25:31-46).

Truss asks in her book: “Is there a clear moral dimension to manners? Can you equate civility and virtue? My own answer would be yes, despite all the famous counter-examples of blood-stained dictators who had exquisite table manners and never used their mobile phone in a crowded train compartment to order mass executions...the collapse of manners stands for a vast...problem of social immorality. Manners are based on an ideal of empathy, of imagining the impact of one’s own actions on others. They involve doing something for the sake of other people that is not obligatory and attracts no reward. In the current climate of...aggressive self-interest, you can equate good manners not only with virtue but with positive heroism.”

I like Truss’ equation of empathy and courtesy. “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you,” Jesus says in a passage known as the Golden Rule. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Wouldn’t you want to be treated courteously?

Don’t overlook common courtesy.

Bible Passage to Ponder: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you...” (Matthew 7:12).

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