Don’t Neglect Courtesy
Courtesy and good manners really are part of the Christian life, and our examples are important.

After the Feast of Tabernacles, about halfway through a 3 ½-hour flight to Singapore, the cabin crew announced that the bathrooms would be closed for cleaning. I wasn’t at all surprised, as I had used one 15 minutes before and was quite shocked at the state of it. In fact, I told my wife that whoever had used it prior to me had left quite a mess. I did endeavor to leave it in a much better state than I found it.

This world so often lacks courtesy, hygiene and basic good manners. People neglect social rules more and more, through ignorance, a lack of caring, or both.

Good manners involve being thoughtful and creative in doing nice things for others. This is comparable to the character trait of kindness, or the fruit of the Spirit of goodness (Galatians 5:22).

The Bible tells us that love “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked …” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Unseemly is defined as “not in keeping with established standards of taste or proper form.” It means to act unbecomingly, or refers to that which is unseemly. Its root is from a similar Greek word that means indecent.

Courtesy and good manners really are part of the Christian life, and our examples are important, especially when teaching our children. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The word train means to inaugurate or dedicate; to train or train up. Good manners, courtesy and good habits of hygiene taught from a young age will carry on into adulthood. This will then pass on by example and teaching to the next generation. (See Deuteronomy 23:12-14 for an example of how ancient Israel was taught good habits of hygiene.)

God tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

Here are several points on how to apply courtesy daily.

First, strive to be mindful of how you impress others in the way you dress and groom yourself. See Matthew 22:11-13 for an example of being properly attired for a situation. We extend courtesy in many ways, such as by being neat and clean, practicing good habits of hygiene, and being considerate of how we affect others.

Second, be courteous in our speech. Colossians 4:6 explains, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Strive to be courteous in all your communication.

Third, be courteous when entertaining. Romans 12:13 encourages, “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.” Social practices will vary in different parts of the world. Make yourself familiar with them if need be to show respect and kindness. “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” (Matthew 7:12). It’s the adage, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

Fourth, show courtesy to those older than you. This is important when teaching our children. Leviticus 19:32 gives instruction in this matter: “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.” Standing when someone older enters the room used to be common practice, and happily it’s being revived at the Philadelphia Youth Camps.

There are many other situations in which to show courtesy, if we walk in the light as God’s kings and priests. There is a level of courtesy we must always strive for as examples of godly courtesy, good manners and hygiene, paving the way for others to follow.

Teach your children by your example in every way possible (Deuteronomy 6:7). Remember, courtesy and good manners are part of the Christian life.

Truly think and act on these things.