The Signs of the Times


November 11, 1886

Courtesy a Christian Grace


As Christians we are commanded to be separate from the world; we are not to drink in its spirit or to follow its customs; but it is not necessary for us to become coarse and rough in our manners and expressions. The truth of God is designed to elevate the receiver, to refine his taste, and to sanctify his judgment. The character of the Christian should be holy, his manners comely, his words without guile. There should be a continual effort to imitate the society he hopes soon to join, that of angels who have never fallen by sin. ST November 11, 1886, par. 1

No man can be a Christian without having the Spirit of Christ; and if he has the Spirit of Christ, it will be manifested in kind words and a refined, courteous deportment. The religion of Jesus is designed to soften whatever is hard and rough in the temper, and to smooth off whatever is rugged or sharp in the manners. External change will testify to an internal change. The truth is the sanctifier, the refiner. Received into the heart, it works with hidden power, transforming the character. But those who profess to be followers of Christ, and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous in words and deportment, have not learned of Jesus. A blustering, overbearing, fault-finding man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christ-like. It is no mark of a Christian to be continually jealous of one's dignity. All these manifestations show that men are still servants of the wicked one. ST November 11, 1886, par. 2

Very many who are seeking for happiness will be disappointed in their hopes, because they seek it amiss, and are indulging in sinful tempers and selfish feelings. By neglecting to discharge the little duties and observe the little courtesies of life, they violate the principles on which happiness depends. True happiness is not to be found in self-gratification, but in the path of duty. God desires man to be happy, and for this reason he gave him the precepts of his law, that in obeying these he might have joy at home and abroad. While he stands in his moral integrity, true to principle, and having the control of all his powers, he cannot be miserable. With its tendrils twined about God, the heart will be full of peace and joy, and the soul will flourish amid unbelief and depravity. ST November 11, 1886, par. 3

Kind words, pleasant looks, a cheerful countenance, throw a charm around the Christian that makes his influence almost irresistible. It is the religion of Christ in the heart that causes the words to be gentle, and the demeanor winning, even to those in the humblest walks of life. In forgetfulness of self, in the light and peace and happiness he is constantly bestowing on others, is seen the true dignity of the man. This is a way to gain respect, and extend the sphere of usefulness, which costs but little; and the one who pursues this course will not complain that he does not receive the honor that is his due. But Bible rules must be written on the heart; Bible rules must be carried into the every-day life. ST November 11, 1886, par. 4

We are none of us what we may be, what God would have us be, and what his word requires us to be. And it is our unbelief that shuts us away from God; for we may at any time lift up our souls to him, and find grace and strength. When Christ shall come, our vile bodies are to be changed, and made like his glorious body; but the vile character will not be made holy then. The transformation of character must take place before his coming. Our natures must be pure and holy; we must have the mind of Christ, that he may behold with pleasure his image reflected upon our souls. ST November 11, 1886, par. 5

Enoch was a marked character, and many look upon his life as something far above what the generality of mortals can ever reach. But Enoch's life and character, which were so holy that he was translated to Heaven without seeing death, represent the lives and characters of all who will be translated when Christ comes. His life was what the life of every individual may be if he will live near to God. We should remember that Enoch was surrounded by unholy influences. The society around him was so depraved that God brought a flood of waters on the world to destroy its inhabitants for their corruption. Were Enoch upon the earth today, his heart would be in harmony with all of God's requirements; he would walk with God, although surrounded by influences the most wicked and debasing. The palm-tree well represents the life of a Christian. It stands upright amid the burning desert sands, and dies not; for it draws sustenance from springs beneath the surface. ST November 11, 1886, par. 6

Joseph preserved his integrity when surrounded by idolaters in Egypt, in the midst of sin and blasphemy and corrupting influences. When tempted to turn aside from the path of virtue, his answer was, “How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel depended upon a strength that was infinite; and this is the only course of safety for Christians to pursue in our day. ST November 11, 1886, par. 7

The lives of these marked men were hid with Christ in God. They were loyal to God, pure amid depravity, devout and fervent when brought in contact with atheism and idolatry. Through divine grace they cultivated only such qualities as were favorable to the development of pure and holy characters. ST November 11, 1886, par. 8

Thus may it be with us. The spirit which Enoch, Joseph, and Daniel possessed, we may have; we may draw from the same source of strength, possess the same power of self-control, and the same graces may shine out in our lives. Said Christ: “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” By reflecting the light of Christ to all around us, we shall become the light of the world; but a selfish, fault-finding, uncourteous person cannot have this sacred influence. ST November 11, 1886, par. 9

Pleasant, kind, and well-bred Christians will have an influence for God and his truth; it cannot be otherwise. The light borrowed from Heaven will shed its brightening rays through them to the pathway of others, leading them to exclaim, “O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” The words we speak, our daily deportment, are the fruit growing upon the tree. If the fruit is sour and unpalatable, the rootlets of that tree are not drawing nourishment from a pure source. If our characters are meek and lowly, if our affections are in harmony with our Saviour, we show that our life is hid with Christ in God, and we leave behind us a bright track. Our life will be in such marked contrast to that of unbelievers, that our associates will discern that we have been with Jesus and learned of him. ST November 11, 1886, par. 10

The Christian need not become a recluse; but while necessarily associating with the world, he will not be of the world. Christian politeness should be cultivated, and daily put in practice. That unkind word should be left unspoken; that selfish disregard of the happiness of others should give place to thoughtful sympathy. True courtesy, blended with truth and justice, will make the life not only useful, but beautiful and fragrant with love and good works. It is no evidence that the Christian has lost his religion, because he has a good report among them that are without. Virtue, honesty, kindness, and faithful integrity make noble characters; those who possess these characteristics will win esteem, even of unbelievers, and their influence in the church will be very precious. We are required to be right in important matters; but faithfulness in little things will fit us for higher positions of trust. ST November 11, 1886, par. 11

On the part of many, there is a great lack of true courtesy. Much is said of the improvements that have been made since the days of the patriarchs; but those living in that age could boast of a higher state of refinement, and of more true courtesy of manners, than are possessed by the people in this age of boasted enlightenment. Integrity, justice, and Christian kindness, blended, make a beautiful combination. Courtesy is one of the graces of the Spirit. It is an attribute of Heaven. The angels never fly into a passion, never are envious, selfish, and jealous. No harsh or unkind words escape their lips. And if we are to be the companions of angels, we too must be refined and courteous. And we have none too much time to change our wrong habits, reform our defective characters, and obtain a fitness for the society of those heavenly beings. All harshness and severity, coarseness and unkindness, must be overcome; and now is the time for us to do the work. We can have no second probation. But if we do not improve these hours of privilege, we would not improve a second probation, should it be granted to us. ST November 11, 1886, par. 12

A Christian will cultivate that charity that is not easily provoked, that suffereth long and is kind, that hopeth all things, endureth all things. If this grace be in you, if you are ruled by the Spirit of Christ, your words and actions will testify that your religion is genuine; for your life will be full of good fruits. The children of God never forget to do good and to communicate. Good works are spontaneous with them; for God has transformed their natures by his grace. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” ST November 11, 1886, par. 13