Love Has Good Manners
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The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 includes a list of what love is not. We read that love “is not rude” in verse 5. Love, then, has good manners.
The Greek phrase could literally be translated “does not act unbecomingly” or “does not act inappropriately.” Christian love does not seek to cause problems, and it does not belittle others. Christian love involves choosing appropriate actions and responses that help other people.
Rudeness is finding more and more acceptance in today’s culture. Public behavior and words that were unthinkable a generation ago are now commonplace. We live in what essayist Merrill Markoe in the Wall Street Journal calls a “renaissance of rudeness.” The fact is that rudeness is rooted in selfishness. Manners are meant to reduce the friction of human interaction; discourtesy reveals a lack of consideration for others. The ill-mannered person is communicating that “it’s all about me.” Love, by contrast, cannot be selfish, for the simple reason that love is concerned for the other person’s well-being. Therefore, love is mannerly.
When Christians give testimony to what they believe and defend the faith, they are to do so “with gentleness and respect.”1 In other words, we are to witness in a loving, courteous way. This is not to say that Christians should never speak negatively regarding the actions of others. The gospel message condemns sin and calls sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus.2 However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do anything, and speaking against sin need not be abrasive. Christians are called to speak the truth in love,3 and, as we know, love is not rude.
A husband who loves his wife will not treat her rudely but with courtesy and respect. A pastor who loves his congregation will not speak of them condescendingly to others. A Christian who loves his neighbor will remember his manners and act in a decorous, fitting way. A life of love is shown in our words and actions and will impact others to bring glory to the Lord.—From gotquestions.org4
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you—not because they are nice, but because you are.—Author unknown
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.—Author unknown
“Could I speak to the manager?”
My friend’s sudden query to our waitress startled me. Our dinner at a popular pizza restaurant had seemed uneventful, and I wondered what Eileen was up to.
The manager appeared at our table a few minutes later. “What can I do for you?” she asked hesitantly, as if she were expecting yet another reprimand from an angry customer.
“I just wanted you to know that our waitress tonight has really been exceptional,” Eileen began. Then she described several things our server had done that impressed her.
The manager was obviously relieved—and delighted. So was the waitress, who was standing nearby. The four of us laughed and chatted for a few minutes. Eileen had made the day of two hardworking women ... and left an indelible impression on me of the power of positive words.
When we think about our words, it’s easy to focus on the ones we’d like to take back. Fortunately, however, there are certain phrases that are almost always the right thing to say—words that communicate love and encouragement.—Susan Maycinik
Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Always be a little kinder than necessary.—James M. Barrie
A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.—Dave Barry
What is courtesy?
Courtesy is showing politeness and consideration to others. It is being aware of the feelings of others, and being mindful of what will make them happy.
When you show kindness to people in little ways, when you are courteous and well mannered, it’s also a way of showing love to Jesus, because you’re showing love to the people He created. It is also an example to others of what Jesus is like.
People appreciate it when others treat them with thoughtfulness and courtesy. It’s often the little things that are so important, they can make others feel appreciated and cared for.
An easy way to be sure that you’re kind and courteous in all you do is to follow Jesus’ golden rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”5—R.A. Watterson and Christi S. Lynch
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.—Leo Buscaglia
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.—Og Mandino
Fifty years ago, it was assumed that good manners were good. Not everyone had them, of course, but those who didn’t either admired or envied those who did.
But starting in the late fifties, good manners were equated with phoniness. The idea trickled down over time, and now, many people have forgotten their manners and some have never learned them.
Before we decry the loss of good manners, we’ve got to be clear on what they are. I asked several people to tell me what good manners are, and they all answered in the same way: by giving examples. Saying “please” and “thank you” is good manners. Holding the door for a lady is good manners. And so on. These are all fine examples, but they don’t quite tell us what the thing is.
So let me take a whack at it. Good manners are nothing but everyday love.
That’s not super clear, is it? Let me explain. Love— according to the Bible—is putting others first.
Once in a while, love will make a costly demand of you. You may have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to pick up a friend whose car broke down in Sacramento. Or, you may need to spend every dime you’ve got to get someone out of trouble. Or, who knows? Maybe you’ll have to die for another person. Jesus Christ said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.”
These are some heavy demands love makes on the believer’s life. But let’s face it, most days, we’re not called to do these things. But every day, we’re called to love by putting others first. One way we do that is with good manners. Let me illustrate.
You come to the door at the same time as someone else. You can either barge in yourself or hold the door open and say, “After you.” We’d all agree that one is good manners and the other is bad manners. But why? Because, by holding the door, you’re putting others first. While, by pushing ahead, you’re putting yourself first.
The same is true about passing food at the table as opposed to grabbing things. Or interrupting people instead of speaking only after they’ve finished. Cutting people off in traffic instead of letting them go first. Turning the music down in your car so others who may not want to listen don’t have to. And so on.
I spent a lot of time thinking these things over, and I couldn’t come up with any bad manner that was not an example of putting yourself first.
If good manners are nothing but “where the salad fork goes” or “sticking up your pinky while drinking tea,” then they wouldn’t be very important. Your mistakes might offend a fussy person here and there, but they’d do no harm and wouldn’t displease God.
But good manners are more than customs or etiquette! They’re a fruit of love. And that means, good manners are very important. Our Lord said the second most important thing you’ll ever do is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Good manners are a way of doing this in the little things of life.—Michael Phillips6
Published on Anchor July 2020. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by Daniel Sozzi.
1 1 Peter 3:15.
2 Acts 17:30.
3 Ephesians 4:15.
5 Matthew 7:12.