I came across this article entitled “Is commitment out of fashion?” – The author shares his experiences with general discourtesy, and people failing to keep their commitments. I agree with the author that this type of behavior has become widespread, and sadly, almost normal. Common courtesy does not seem so common anymore! The article is a secular one, but I wanted to approach it from a Christian perspective.
Titus 3:2 states that we should “show perfect courtesy to all people”. Other versions word it slightly differently, stating we should be considerate, meek, or show true humility towards others. Similarly, Scripture also commands us to honor or respect others (Romans 12:10, I Peter 2:17).
Perhaps the greatest example in how to treat others is found in Philippians chapter 2. For years, I missed the main point of this chapter. I tend to think more academically, and I thought of it as the theological chapter on the kenosis (how Jesus limited himself and became human). Yet, that is the secondary point! Doctrine was not the primary point at all. Doctrine was rather being used as an illustration. We are to be humble because Jesus was humble. What we believe must affect how we live. Verses 3-5 state:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…
How are we treating others? Are we imitating Christ? As Christians, we believe in the Imago Dei – that human beings are made in the image of God and reflect their Creator. We should acknowledge others, and our behavior towards them should affirm their worth as reflecting the image of God.
In our modern technological and depersonalized society, treating others with courtesy, honor and respect is sorely needed. As Christians, we should excel at this and be known for it!
Are we on time, or do we call to let someone know we will be late?
If we borrow something, do we treat the item with care and return it promptly?
Do we return phone calls or answer e-mails in a timely fashion?
Do we RSVP to the invitations we receive?
Do we show appreciation to others when they assist us in some way?
Do we think of how others might need our assistance, and offer to help them?
Are we reliable? Do we keep our commitments?
Keeping a commitment means we follow through on what we say we will do.
As Christians we should value people, and our priorities and behavior should reflect that.
While I could give examples of the courteous and kind behavior of Christians, I unfortunately had a bad experience the last 3 years at a local church. I’m still trying to figure it out. Discourtesy seemed rampant. Official leadership and lay leadership alike would…fail to reply to e-mails, pass the buck, say they would do something and then not do it, etc. Communication and reliability was problematic to say the least. I don’t want it to sound like I am a demanding person with unrealistic expectations. Those who know me personally would attest that I am actually an independent person that does not like to bother people.
These experiences were new for me. (By the way, my spouse went through it with me.) To be ignored, not listened to, and treated with such discourtesy….it made us feel…frustrated, insignificant, lacking value.
We felt like invisible people.
This is not how Christians are to treat each other.
A secondary concern we had was this: We are solid believers, and although this discouraged us, it has not made us abandon our faith.
But what about that unbeliever or struggling believer who reaches out to this church and is ignored?
It is hard for some people to reach out for help, and they may not reach out again. An opportunity may have been lost. They may now have a negative view of “the church” because of the discourtesy shown them.
It is good to try and learn from experiences. We felt like invisible people, and we don’t want to make others feel like invisible people. I’ve been carefully considering my own behavior, and through the power of the Spirit, I am trying to treat others in a way that demonstrates that I value, honor, and respect them.
I’ve been reading the old Dale Carnegie classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It is not a Christian book, and certain aspects of the underlying philosophy are a little off. But as Christians we are to value others, and this book offers practical ideas on how to demonstrate to others that we value them.
As always, thanks for listening.