Cultivate Christian etiquette - 28 January 2019

Hennie Symington

Be wise in the way you act towards those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone.  Colossians 4:5-6

“Where are your manners?” is a question we often ask when people misbehave or break the rules of etiquette. It upsets us when people push in front of us, or use foul language in public. But what about our Christian etiquette? We are often confronted with ethical issues which we think don’t really impact on society. For example, do I always keep my promises, do I always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Do I pay my debts and do I give my share of money to the church and the needy? How do I treat my elderly parents?

Surely, as Christians we ought to reflect a certain attitude towards life which set us apart from the rest of society. In our minds the question we should constantly consider is Jesus’ question to his disciples: “What makes you different from the others?” In a world where the only “thank-you” you can be sure of comes from the well-mannered ATM, the challenge to be different becomes so much greater.

The following incident reflects something of a godly etiquette. Recently, a friend on a flight from London to New York was seated next to woman who seemed terribly sad. It turns out that her husband who would have been on the flight with her, had died the previous week and my friend was sitting in the seat he would have had. As a devout Christian, she started asking God what she could to do comfort the woman next to her. “Take her hand,” came the answer loud and clear. “But God, I can’t just do that. Are you sure that’s what I should do?” she responded. “Take her hand!” the answer came back. So she did. For the duration of the flight, they sat silently hand in hand as the tears rolled down the woman’s cheeks. At the end of the flight, she simply said to my friend: “You will never know what this meant to me.”

These are deeds that reflect our Christian manners. Many centuries before, St Francis of Assisi understood something of this when he kissed the face and the hands of a beggar as he placed a coin in his hands.

Prayer: Lord, random acts of kindness should be the rule and not the exception for those who profess to love you. Remind me of my task as I journey through your world. Amen

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