I was asked to give a talk on 'manners' to a group of kids.

Obviously once you actually start to 'speak' what you've written down, it kind of evolves to fit the specific circumstances - but I thought I'd post what I wrote anyway :)


^ Just because it was relevant ;P :)
Some practical examples of ‘good manners’ . . . We are to show respect and deference to our seniors – both those who are senior as in elderly or grandparents and parents’ age – in standing when they enter a room, giving them our attention when they speak (in proper deference to their wisdom or greater experience), offering them our seat, assisting in carrying things.

The same type of thing applies for boys or men in relation to girls or women in that our 'gentlemanly' duty would be to offer the same kind of assistance in opening doors, carrying heavy objects, pulling out chairs, assisting in putting on a coat or taking one to hang it up, etc. Though some or all of these sorts of ‘assistance’ may not be needed in either case on many occasions, it is still a part of proper etiquette that shows respect and kindness. . .

So, keeping in mind these things that have been listed to give you a practical basis for good ‘manners,’ I want is to ask a question: “What exactly are manners?”

Well, first, your ‘manner,’ is generally the way in which you carry yourself – your method, or way of performing or executing things in your day to day life. It is essentially the way you conduct yourself.

So let’s look at a proper (or ‘archaic’ – some would say) definition of the term ‘manners.’

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
1. Deportment; carriage; behavior; conduct; course of life; in a moral sense.
     Evil communications corrupt good manners. 1 Cor. 15
2. Ceremonious behavior; civility; decent and respectful deportment
    Shall we, in our applications to the great God, take that to be religion, which the common reason of mankind will not allow to be manners? South.
3. A bow or courtesy; as, make your manners; a popular use of the word.

n. Propriety of behavior; politeness; decorum.

According to Webster’s definition above, manners as a whole are not merely ‘being polite or civil in a situation among our seniors or other people.’ They display your character, the very essence of your moral and ethical beliefs.

There is Scripture that would suggest the same – consider Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians about how they should live: 
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. ~ Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
. . . which he continues in the twelfth verse of the second chapter:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. ~ Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
 – And consider also Paul’s words to the Colossians: Colossians 1:9-10 . . . something that Jesus said that would suggest something of the same would be Matthew 7:12 (Note that we do not do this with a guarantee of reward). . .

So there is no doubt that God has provided us with many exhortations and commands in his Word that should effect how we treat or interact with the people around us – especially in considering James’ exposition on how ‘faith without works is dead’ in James 2:14-17. More examples of specific passages can be found in much of the Old Testament – especially the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5) and the books of the law – or in Jesus’ summation of the two tables of the law in Matthew 22:37-40. 

(Other verses of note that apply to this subject - 1 Peter 1:14-16(Lev 11:44 + 19:2), 1 Peter 2:1, 1 Peter 2:12, Ephesians 4:1-3, Galatians 5:13-15(16-26, 6:1-10))

Now, after pointing out all of this, we must ask another question: what is the reason or even the motivation behind all of this? And I would like to supply an approximation of both.

First, the reason. . .
There is an excellent ‘blanket statement’ of a reason for everything that we do in First Corinthians.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV (Note the next two verses also ;)

Every little thing we do, be it showing good manners by opening a door or whatever, we must be compelled by the sole purpose of bringing glory, honor and praise to our God and Savior. And He has given us the most perfect and ultimate example of this in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. . .
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV

Here is a quote on Jesus’ example from Charles Haden Spurgeon, taken from a sermon he gave entitled Christ About His Father’s Business…
“…You never find Christ doing a thing which you may not imitate. You would scarcely think it necessary that he should be baptized; but lo, he goes to Jordan's stream and dives beneath the wave, that he may be buried in baptism unto death, and may rise again—though he needed not to rise—into newness of life. You see him healing the sick, to teach us benevolence; rebuking hypocrisy to teach us boldness; enduring temptation to teach us hardness, wherewith, as good soldiers of Christ, we ought to war a good warfare. You see him forgiving his enemies to teach us the grace of meekness and of forbearance; you behold him giving up his very life to teach us how we should surrender ourselves to God, and give up ourselves for the good of others. Put Christ at the wedding; you may imitate him. Ay, sirs, and you might imitate him, if you could, in turning water into wine, without a sin. Put Christ at a funeral; you may imitate him—"Jesus wept." Put him on the mountain-top; he shall be there in prayer alone, and you may imitate him. Put him in the crowd; he shall speak so, that if you could speak like him you should speak well. Put him with enemies; he shall so confound them, that he shall be a model for you to copy. Put him with friends, and he shall be a "friend that sticketh closer than a brother," worthy of your imitation. Exalt him, cry hosanna, and you shall see him riding upon a "colt, the foal of an ass," meek and lowly. Despise and spit upon him, you shall see him bearing contumely and contempt with the same evenness of spirit which characterized him when he was exalted in the eye of the world. Everywhere you may imitate Christ.”

As far as motivation goes, what more do you need than that reason for the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the ways in which we conduct ourselves? God, the Son – the Word become flesh – dwelt among us to live a perfect and holy life as an example for how we are to walk, and then died – was crucified – upon a tree and bore our sin, that we may be forgiven and redeemed. Is that not enough motivation? Is that not enough to make you adore and love our God? Our Savior and Redeemer? Our holy holy holy LORD and King?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” ~ John 14:15-21 ESV

…We should have such a love for God, that we are compelled to do all that which is good and right, and brings honor and glory and praise to our almighty Creator and Redeemer, not only in the little things, but in every single aspect of our lives.

I realize I’ve gotten very serious on you, but Christ and what he did on the cross – despite all the wondrous joy it provides for those whom He has saved through the free gift of His Grace – is serious business, and we should tremble at the very thought that we have been offered the chance to glorify God by striving to follow and obey His commands – and are still forgiven and covered over with the righteousness of Christ by the Grace of God when we fall horrifyingly short of the standard… (Romans and Hebrews are the best places to go to have a better understanding of this...)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. ~ Philippians 3:7-4:1 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:4-9 ESV

~ J D White

1 comment:

Joan Ark said...

Excellent! It is nice to have manners come back again.