Word of the Week: Courtesy

“Courtesy,” wrote Teddy Roosevelt,” is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”

That thought seems pretty much lost of many folks today. Apparently, everything has to be bluntly challenged. Every thought. Every opinion. Every personal view. Every political persuasion.

The other day I read a post on facebook by a brother in Christ with whom I didn’t 100% totally agree. It was his personal opinion. It had nothing to do with scripture. It spoke to the political climate today in America.  But I believe he had a valid point. And was sincere in his concerns.

However, the thread soon degenerated into disrespectful, unkind and pejorative comments. Without naming names, I was going to quote some things said. However, I did not want someone to figure out who and what I was referring to and get embroiled in the controversy. Then be accused of being “on the wrong side.” Thus, the point of this blog post would be missed.

By the way, the only side I truly want to be on is the side of Jesus Christ.

Our word of the week, courtesy, is defined by dictionary.com as “excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior… courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.”

Courtesy involves civility. Good manners. Kindness. Deference. Decency. Respect. And basically being polite in our interactions with others.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the issue of courtesy is implied, if not directly addressed.  Paul wrote that “love is kind.” He also exhorted “Be kind to one another” (Eph 4:32). Also among the nine qualities called “the fruit of Spirit” is kindness. Courtesy calls for kindness. Brotherly Kindness is one of the virtues that Peter says should be added to our faith (2 Peter 1:7).

Furthermore, Paul says that love “does not behave rudely.” The J.P. Philips translation renders it “love has good manners.” Being right does not give us the right to be impolite. Rude. Crude. Or inconsiderate of another’s feelings. The late American social philosopher Eric Hoffer once wrote, “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

The Bible admonishes Christians to be concerned about their conversations with non-Christians with these words: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5). Would this principle include our facebook posts and comments?

We are not surprised when worldly people are rude, discourteous and unkind in their actions, attitudes and hurtful retorts, but it is sad and shocking to see that among the people of God. The apostle Peter speaks to a spirit of courtesy in our relationships when he writes, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Pet. 3:8).

Discourteous and unkind retorts invite similar responses. Nothing is gained by insults, innuendoes, and insolence. Except more of the same. We reap what we sow. And the harvest is producing harsh words and hurt feelings.

It is painfully obvious that much of our country is polarized morally, socially and politically. Can we not as God’s holy people rise above it? Be better? Project a higher tone? And set a kinder, gentler example?

Thomas J. Watson was right when he wrote: “Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous — not just to some people in some circumstances — but to everyone all the time.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

4 Comments

Filed under Word of the Week

4 responses to “Word of the Week: Courtesy

  1. James Grushon

    Well said and something I am working on in my communication. Not perfected but it is on my mind. I need to handle everything in a way that makes for peace, even my face book post with non-believers.

  2. Stephen Segrest

    We disagree on some things from time to time — but you always make me feel that you love me (agape).

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