The Review and Herald

320/1902

September 8, 1885

Bible Examples of True Courtesy

EGW

In order to perfect Christian character, the whole man must be molded after the standard of Heaven. Kindness and amiability are essential qualities in the child of God; but hollow-hearted, hypocritical courtesy, which is so common among worldlings, is not the genuine grace of Christian politeness. Courtesy cannot take the place of a holy life; neither can the life be perfect in the absence of this fine filling up, which is like the delicate penciling in a picture. Those who open their hearts and homes to invite Jesus to abide with them, should keep the moral atmosphere unclouded by strife, bitterness, wrath, malice, or even an unkind word. Jesus will not abide in a home where are contention, envy, and bitterness. RH September 8, 1885, par. 1

The Holy Scriptures give us marked examples of the exercise of true courtesy. Abraham was a man of God. When he pitched his tent, he at once erected his altar for sacrifice, and invited God to abide with him. Abraham was a courteous man. His life is not marred with selfishness, so hateful in any character, and so offensive in the sight of God. Witness his conduct when about to separate from Lot. Though Lot was his nephew, and much younger than himself, and the first choice of the land belonged to Abraham, courtesy led him to forego his right, and permit Lot to select for himself that part of the country which seemed to him most desirable. Behold him as he welcomes the three travelers in the heat of the day, and hastens to provide for their necessities. Again observe him as he engages in a business transaction with the sons of Heth, to purchase a burying-place for Sarah. In his grief he does not forget to be courteous. He bows before them, although he is God's nobleman. Abraham knew what genuine politeness was, and what was due from man to his fellow-man. RH September 8, 1885, par. 2

The great apostle Paul was firm where duty and principle were at stake; he preached Christ with great boldness; but he was never harsh and impolite. He had a tender heart, and was ever kind and thoughtful of others. Courtesy was a marked trait of his character, and this gave him access to the better class of society. RH September 8, 1885, par. 3

Paul never doubted the ability of God or his willingness to give him the grace he needed to live the life of a Christian. He exclaims: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” His language is that of faith and hope, not of doubt and despair: “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” “I know whom I have believed.” He does not live under a cloud of doubt, groping his way in the mist and darkness of uncertainty, complaining of hardship and trials. A voice of gladness, strong with hope and courage, sounds all along the line down to our time. Paul had a healthful religious experience. The love of Christ was his grand theme, and the constraining power that governed him. RH September 8, 1885, par. 4

When in most discouraging circumstances, which would have had a depressing influence upon halfway Christians, he is firm of heart, full of courage and hope and cheer, exclaiming, “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.” The same hope and cheerfulness is seen when he is upon the deck of the ship, the tempest beating about him, the ship going to pieces. He gives orders to the commander of the ship and preserves the lives of all on board. Although a prisoner, he is really the master of the ship, the freest and happiest man on board. When wrecked and driven to a barbarous island, he is the most self-possessed, the most helpful in saving his fellow-men from a watery grave. His hands brought the wood to kindle the fire for the benefit of the chilled, ship-wrecked passengers. When they saw the deadly viper fasten upon his hand, they were filled with terror; but Paul calmly shook it into the fire, knowing it could not harm him; for he implicitly trusted in God. RH September 8, 1885, par. 5

When before kings and dignitaries of the earth, who held his life in their hands, he quailed not; for he had given his life to God, and it was hid in Christ. He softened, by his courtesy, the hearts of these men in power, men of fierce temper, wicked and corrupt though they were in heart and life. He did not forget his position, or the importance of the occasion. He was zealous for the truth, bold in advocating Christ; but propriety of deportment, the grace of true politeness, marked all his conduct. When he stretched out his hand, as was his custom in speaking, the clanking chains caused him no shame nor embarrassment. He looked upon them as tokens of honor, and rejoiced that he could suffer for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Surrounded by philosophers, kings, and critics, he was God's embassador. His reasoning was so clear and convincing that it made the profligate king tremble as Paul dwelt upon his experience, showing what had wrought the change in his religious views which aroused the malice of the Jews. He exalted Jesus Christ as the world's Redeemer. Grace, like an angel of mercy, makes his voice heard sweet and clear, repeating the story of the cross, the matchless love of Jesus. RH September 8, 1885, par. 6

Paul attracted warm hearts wherever he went; his soul was linked to the soul of his brethren. When he parted with them, knowing and assuring them that they would never see his face again, they were filled with sorrow, and so earnestly besought him to still remain with them that he exclaimed, “What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart?” His sympathetic heart was breaking as he witnessed and felt their grief at this final separation. They loved him, and felt that they could not give him up. What Christian does not admire the character of Paul? Firm as a rock when standing in defense of the truth, he was affectionate and gentle as a child when surrounded by his friends. But his rebuke of sin was terribly severe, especially to those who professed to believe in Christ and yet dishonored their profession. His heart was aglow with love, and yet when duty demanded he could be stern with holy indignation. Let the example of Paul, whose life was in accordance with the life of Christ, be a lesson to us. RH September 8, 1885, par. 7

But in Christ a greater example has been given us than that of either patriarch or apostle. Here we have genuine courtesy illustrated. This virtue ran parallel with his life, clothing it with a softened and refined beauty, and shedding its luster over every action. He bids the weary and oppressed come to him, and find rest and peace in bearing his yoke and lifting his burden. He invites them, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” His heart of sympathizing love longs to quiet restless, oppressed, and suffering minds that can find peace only in learning the lessons of his meekness and lowliness. Their fluctuating, changeful, mournful experience is anything but rest. It is labor, pain, and sorrow. To bear insult, reproach, and abuse without retaliating and without arraying themselves in opposition to those who would injure them, is the lesson he would teach them. He would have them lay off the yoke of pride, so galling to the neck, and take his yoke, which is easy, for it is the meekness and gentleness of Christ. RH September 8, 1885, par. 8

What great condescension is here manifested by our Lord. No matter how poor and wretched the applicant, the relief he asked was always given. The Saviour uttered no word of reproach or censure, though he was constantly besieged and his hours for repose and retirement broken in upon. In the streets of the crowded city, in the groves, or by the lake-side, he was ever greeted by the complaints and requests of suffering humanity. RH September 8, 1885, par. 9

The leper was required to dwell apart from the habitations of men, and at the approach of any person he must utter the mournful cry, Unclean, unclean! lest the traveler approach near enough to be endangered by contagion. But as the leper discerns in the stranger Jesus, the Mighty Healer, that cry is hushed, and a most imploring prayer bursts from his lips, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Never was such an appeal made in vain. The answer comes back to him, “I will, be thou clean.” Publicans and sinners throng about the blessed Saviour for one word of hope, for one touch of his finger to heal their various maladies. He had a kind word and look for every one. Though he was the Majesty of heaven, he did not proclaim his exalted character, and claim the reverence which rightfully belonged to him. But he traversed the earth, weary, hungry, and often sad, because men did not feel their need of the blessings he came to give them. RH September 8, 1885, par. 10

This is the example of true courtesy which we must all copy if we would be indeed followers of Jesus. The Christian's character will surely correspond with the name. Those who have no care in regard to their words or actions, and thus bring unhappiness to all around them, must learn of Jesus to be meek and lowly of heart. Rough ways and coarse manners dishonor the Christian name and misrepresent Christ. Many will not be fitted to enter heaven, because they do not see the importance of imitating the perfect Pattern. Some term roughness, careless ways, and untidy dress humility and freedom from pride; but humility is disgusted with such companions and will not be seen in their society. RH September 8, 1885, par. 11

Those who make a profession of sanctification are frequently the most proud, selfish, and over bearing. What an account will such have to render to God for their influence! They profess that their conduct is in harmony with heaven, while they manifest the evil promptings of their natural hearts. They in no way resemble Enoch, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, or Christ, the perfect Pattern. They bring Bible sanctification into contempt. Their course of conduct is uncourteous, and many times really unkind and uncouth. Such are like signboards at cross-roads which mislead the traveler by pointing in the wrong direction. RH September 8, 1885, par. 12

Though these persons claim perfection, they know not experimentally what it means. No one is attracted to them, and made better by their example. Those who profess sanctification, and yet do not the requirements of God, have not put on Christ; they do not wear the grace of humility, and exhibit Christ in words and actions till men shall be charmed by his perfections and be led to glorify God by seeing their good works. RH September 8, 1885, par. 13

Christ is pleased with his followers when they show that, though human, they are partakers of the divine nature. They are not statues, but living men and women, whose warm hearts, invigorated by the dews of divine grace, open and expand as the beams of the Sun of righteousness shine upon them. The light which falls upon them they reflect upon others in works which are luminous with the love of Christ. Cold, professedly sinless Christians are like icebergs; they seem to freeze up the cheerfulness of all who are connected with them. Their influence upon the cause of Christ is always deleterious. Nothing is so offensive to God as the atmosphere of those who profess holiness of heart, but whose lives have a bad flavor. Unsavory actions make the Christian repulsive. RH September 8, 1885, par. 14

Instead of isolating themselves, Christians should associate together. Their influence upon one another may be salutary. We should learn lessons of Paul, who was often found relating his experience. There is too little conversation upon the facts of religious experience, and the mercy and goodness of God. Love and gratitude are not cherished in the heart as they should be. Little, delicate acts of courtesy are sadly neglected. Words of cheer and encouragement to one another might be spoken with the best of results. There is great need of individual sanctification to God, but we have no sympathy for the spurious article. RH September 8, 1885, par. 15

True sanctification is carried into all the business of life. Pure thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, elevated purposes of action, yearnings to attain to perfection, will be the experience of every real Christian. These have fellowship with the Father and with the Son. They are constantly increasing in the knowledge of God. They grow in reverence and trust and love; but while they are coming nearer and nearer to perfection of character, they will feel more and more deeply their unlikeness to Christ, and have greater distrust of themselves and greater dependence upon God. As these are growing up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, they will be sought by others, and will be a help and blessing to all with whom they associate. The most Christlike professors are those who are the most kind, pitiful, and courteous; their convictions are firm and their characters strong; nothing can swerve them from their faith or allure them from their duty. RH September 8, 1885, par. 16

A Christian will cultivate a meek and quiet spirit; he will be calm, considerate of others, and will have a happy temper that sickness will not make irritable nor the weather or circumstances disturb. We want to cherish that charity which is not easily provoked, which suffereth long and is kind, which hopeth all things, endureth all things. If this grace be in you, if you are ruled by the spirit of Christ, all who see you will take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus; and your words and actions will testify that your religion is full of good fruits. The children of God never forget to do good and to communicate. They have the spirit of Christ; 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.” RH September 8, 1885, par. 17