Friday, 06 July 2012

Where Have All the Manners Gone?

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During a stop at a local post office not long ago, I encountered a little boy not more than 3 or 4 years old, “greeting” everyone who came in and out of the entry way with a loud and very vulgar profanity as he waited for his mom, dad or another adult who he had accompanied there. I glimpsed an elderly woman recoil with a shocked expression as the little guy clearly uttered the obscene phrase to her. What struck me was not so much that this child was being naughty, but that he had picked up that phrase from some sort of interaction in his young life and figured it was an appropriate way to express himself to others. How sad.

Think of situations you probably experience on a daily basis: How many times have you been talking with someone face-to-face, only to see them texting another person mid-conversation? Or gone to a theater or presentation to be interrupted by ringing cell phones, people talking loudly to their seat mates or slurping their food or beverages? If you are on the roads at all, you most likely have encountered the wrath of another driver, perhaps because you weren’t driving as fast as they thought you should be. And there are likely countless other examples of rude behavior that seem to permeate our society. It can make a person wish they were a hermit at times!

Consider how rude behaviors can affect others mentally: They can make a person feel like they are unimportant, stupid or insignificant. Many times people don’t realize how their actions affect others—or worse, even care if they do. Part of the rudeness and seeming self-centeredness exhibited by many in this day and age are characteristics the apostle Paul wrote about in the scriptures: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce…” (2 Timothy 3:1-3)

While we may not be able to escape the behavior of others, we can determine in ourselves to not add to the mix of rudeness and inconsideration we often encounter on a daily basis. If a person claims to love their heavenly Father and His Christ, he or she will also strive to show polite and thoughtful behavior toward others.

In 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, Paul lists some of the many attributes of charity (love). Among those, he implies that love does not behave unbecomingly, is not self-seeking, nor easily provoked, but is kind. Galatians 5:22-23 refers to traits that a true Christian should cultivate: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Consideration for others can make a lasting impression on those we meet. If we try to be on our best behavior among others and follow the words God gave us, those things can speak volumes about the way we are trying to live.

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NIV) He and his other companions tried to set forth a good example among those they met during their numerous travels. We can do the same.

While we cannot change the course of this evil world, we can at least change our own behaviors to more closely mirror those that Jesus Christ, the apostles and other believers showed. The Bible has a wealth of good instruction on how we should conduct our lives if we are simply willing to take the time to seek it out. What a bright spot it can be in another’s day to meet someone who exhibits a thoughtful and gracious demeanor! And the way we treat others shows that we are trying to live by our convictions; something that pleases our Creator.
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