To be kind is to be caring, sympathetic, gentle, thoughtful, compassionate, considerate, solicitous, helpful. To be courteous is to be polite, gracious, well-mannered, considerate, refined, polished. Courtesy is an example and manifestation of kindness.
The Bible states it simply: “Be kind one to another. … ” (Eph. 4:32); ” … Be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8). These instructions are based on one word love. “As I have loved you …love one another” John 13:34). And the Spirit of Prophecy says: “Be polite to God and to one another.”-Sons and Daughters of God, p. 315:4.
OUR GREAT EXEMPLAR
” … Rend your heart … and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness….” Joel2:13.
“What Christ was on this earth, the Christian worker should strive to be. He is our example, not only in His spotless purity, but also in His patience, gentleness, and winsomeness of disposition. His life is an illustration of true courtesy. He had ever a kind look and a word of comfort for the needy and the oppressed. His presence brought a purer atmosphere into the home. His life was as leaven working amid the elements of society. Pure and undefiled, He walked among the thoughtless, the rude, the incautious; among unjust publicans, unrighteous Samaritans, heathen soldiers, rough peasants, and the mixed multitude.... “-Colporteur Ministry, p.73:1.
“Some with whom you are brought in contact may be rough and uncourteous, but do not, because of this, be less courteous yourself.” Gospel Workers, p. 122: 3. Because we are in union with Christ, because we love Him as He loves us, we must influence the unkind and discourteous to be Christ-like in their behavior.
“The essence of true politeness is consideration for others. The essential, enduring education is that which broadens the sympathies and encourages universal kindliness. That so called culture, which does not make a youth deferential toward his parents, appreciative of their excellences, forbearing toward their defects, and helpful to their necessities; which does not make him considerate and tender, generous and helpful toward the young, the old, and the unfortunate, and courteous toward all is a failure.
“Christian courtesy is the golden clasp which unites the members of the family in bonds of love, becoming closer and stronger every day.”-The Adventist Home, p. 423:1, 2.
“Real refinement of thought and manner is better learned in the school of the divine Teacher than by any observance of set rules. His love pervading the heart gives to the character those refining touches that fashion it in the semblance of His own. This education imparts a heaven-born dignity and sense of propriety. It gives a sweetness of disposition and a gentleness of manner that can never be equaled by the superficial polish of fashionable society.
“The Bible enjoins courtesy, and it presents many illustrations of the unselfish spirit, the gentle grace, the winsome temper, that characterize true politeness. These are but reflections of the character of Christ. All the real tenderness and courtesy in the world, even among those who do not acknowledge His name, is from Him. And He desires these characteristics to be perfectly reflected in His children. It is His purpose that in us men shall behold His beauty.
“The most valuable treatise on etiquette ever penned is the precious instruction given by the Saviour, with the utterance of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul-words that should be ineffaceably written in the memory of every human being, young or old: ‘As I have loved you, that ye also love one another’ John 13:34).”-Education, pp. 241:4, 5; 242:1.
”A cultivated intellect is a great treasure; but without the softening influence of sympathy and sanctified love, it is not of the highest value. We want words and deeds of tender consideration for others. A thousand little attentions we can manifest in friendly words and pleasant looks, which will be reflected back upon us again. Thoughtless Christians manifest in their neglect of others that they are not in union with Christ. It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be forgetful of others’ rights, and be unkind to others.
Many long intensely for friendly sympathy. God has given each of us an identity of our own, which cannot be submerged in another; but our individual characteristics will be much less prominent if we are indeed Christ’s, and His will is ours. Our lives should be, as was our Saviour’s, consecrated to the good and happiness of others. We should be self-forgetful, and ever looking out for opportunities, even in little things, to show gratitude for the favors we have received of others, and watching for opportunities cheer and lighten, and relieve the sorrows and burdens of others, by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies in our families, that extend outside the family circle, help make up the sum of life’s happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life’s bitterness and sorrow.”-Review and Herald, June 22, 1886, par. 7.
COURTESY BEGINS AT HOME
Parents, take special note of these words. If you do not teach your children these good habits in their earliest days, when they are young and tender, it will be pretty well impossible to do it later.
“In many families, there is no positive rudeness among the members, only a lack of those simple, affectionate attentions which awaken a spontaneous return; a want of that consideration and gentleness of demeanor which are well-springs of comfort in every household. The well-bred host does not fail to bid his guest ‘Good night,’ and ‘Good morning;’ why should not this simple expression of good feeling be always exchanged between parents and children?
The kindly morning greeting will often nip in the bud some rising fretfulness; and the pleasant ‘Goodby,’ from old and young, when leaving the house for office, shop, or school, is a fragrant memory through the day of separation. When the family gathers alone around breakfast or dinner table, the same courtesy should prevail as if guests were present. Reproof, complaint, unpleasant discussion, and scandal, no less than moody silence, should be banished. Let the conversation be genial, and suited to the little folks as far as possible. Interesting incidents of the day’s experience may be mentioned at the evening meal, thus arousing the social element. If resources fail, sometimes little bits read aloud from the morning or evening paper will kindle the conversation.
“No pleasanter sight is there than a family of young folks who are quick to perform little acts of attention toward their elders. The placing of the big arm chair in a warm place for mamma, running for a footstool for aunty, hunting up papa’s spectacles, and scores of little deeds show unsurpassed and loving hearts. But if mamma never returns a smiling ‘Thank you, dear,’ if papa’s ‘Just what I was wanting, Susie,’ does not indicate that the little attention is appreciated, the children soon drop the habit. Little people are imitative creatures, and quickly catch the spirit surrounding them. So, if, when the mother’s spool of cotton rolls from her lap, the father stoops to pick it up, bright eyes will see the act, and quick minds make a note of it. By example, a thousand times more quickly than by precept, can children be taught to speak kindly to each other, to acknowledge favors, to be gentle and unselfish, to be thoughtful and considerate of the comfort of the family. The boys, with inward pride in their father’s courteous demeanor, will be chivalrous and helpful to their young sisters; the girls, imitating the mother, will be gentle and patient, even when big brothers are noisy and heedless.”-The Health Reformer, February 1, 1874, pars. 3, 4.
“God designed that we should be tolerant of one another, that those of varied temperaments should be associated together, so that by mutual forbearance and consideration of one another’s peculiarities, prejudices should be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Diversities of temperament and character are frequently marked in families; where this is the case there should be a mutual recognition of one another’s rights. Thus all the members may be in harmony, and the blending of varied temperaments may be a benefit to all. Christian courtesy is the golden clasp which unites the members of the family in bonds of love, becoming closer and stronger every day.”-Signs of the Times, November 29, 1877, par. 6.
“Too many cares and burdens are brought into our families, and too little of natural simplicity and peace
and happiness is cherished. There should be less care for what the outside world will say, and more thoughtful attention to the members of the family circle. There should be less display and affectation of worldly politeness, and much more tenderness and love, cheerfulness and Christian courtesy among the members of the household. Many need to learn how to make home attractive, a place of enjoyment. Thankful hearts and kind looks are more valuable than wealth and luxury, and contentment with simple things will make home happy if love be there.”- The Adventist Home, p. 155:4.
“There is great need of the cultivation of true refinement in the home. This is a powerful witness in favor of the truth. In whomsoever they may appear, vulgarity of language and of demeanor indicate a vitiated heart. Truth of heavenly origin never degrades the receiver, never makes him coarse or rough. Truth is softening and refining in its influence. When received into the heart, it makes the youth respectful and polite. Christian politeness is received only under the working of the Holy Spirit. It does not consist in affection or artificial polish, in bowing and simpering. This is the class of politeness possessed by those of the world, but they are destitute of true Christian politeness. True polish, true politeness, is obtained only from a practical knowledge of the gospel of Christ. True politeness, true courtesy, is a kindness shown to all, high or low, rich or poor.”-Id., p. 422:4.
“The most valuable rules for social and family intercourse are to be found in the Bible. There is not only the best and purest standard of morality but the most valuable code of politeness. Our Saviour’s Sermon on the Mount contains instruction of priceless worth to old and young. It should be often read in the family circle and its precious teachings exemplified in the daily life. The golden rule, ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,’ as well as the apostolic injunction, ‘In honourpreferring one another,’ should be made the law of the family. Those who cherish the spirit of Christ will manifest politeness at home, a spirit of benevolence even in little things. They will be constantly seeking to make all around them happy, forgetting self in their kind attentions to others. This is the fruit which grows upon the Christian tree. ‘The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.”-The Adventist Home, pp. 423:3; 424:1 .
“God calls upon believers to cease finding fault, to cease making hasty, unkind speeches. Parents, let the words that you speak to your children be kind and pleasant, that angels may have your help in drawing them to Christ. A thorough reformation is needed in the home church. Let it begin at once. Let all grumbling and fretting and scolding cease. Those who fret and scold shut out the angels of heaven and open the door to evil angels.
“Let the husband and wife remember that they have burdens enough to carry without making their lives wretched by allowing differences to come in. Those who give place to little differences invite Satan into their home. The children catch the spirit of contention over mere trifles. Evil agencies do their part to make parents and children disloyal to God.
“My brethren and sisters, will you not be laborers together with God, working for peace and harmony. Pray for the sweet, molding influence of the Holy Spirit. Let your lips be governed by the law of kindness. Refuse to be sour, uncourteous, unkind. Be true to your profession of faith…. “When you agree to wear Christ’s yoke, when you heed the invitation, ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls’ (Matt. 11 :29), you will cease to bind yokes on the necks of others. You will cease to find fault. You will no longer regard it as a virtue to differ from others. You will dwell on those points on which you can agree. “We are preparing to meet ourLord when He comes in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. In this grand and noble work, we are to help one another. Parents are to bring all the sunshine and pleasantness that they can into their homes. They are to make their homes full of sunshine by kindly words and deeds. “Do not serve the enemy of God by exhibiting a harsh, unkind spirit. Those only will enter heaven who have overcome the temptation to speak and act unkindly and harshly. Act out the mind of Christ, speak the words of Christ, and the Lord Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, will be a guest in your home.”-This Day With God, p.111.
WHAT COURTESY AND KINDNESS DO FOR US
“True courtesy blended with truth and justice makes the life not only useful but beautiful and fragrant. Kind words, pleasant looks, a cheerful countenance, throw a charm about the Christian that makes his influence almost irresistible. In forgetfulness of self, in the light and peace and happiness that he is constantly bestowing on others, he finds true joy.”-In Heavenly Places, p. 180:4.
“What is lying against the truth? It is claiming to believe the truth while the spirit, the words, the deportment, represent not Christ but Satan. To surmise evil, to be impatient and unforgiving, is lying against the truth, but love, patience, and long forbearance are in accordance with the principles of truth. Truth is ever pure, ever kind, breathing a heavenly fragrance unmingled with selfishness.
“To be unkind, to denounce others, to give expression to harsh, severe judgments, to entertain evil thoughts, is not the result of that wisdom which is from above…. The language of the Christian must be mild and circumspect, for his holy faith requires him to represent Christ to the world. All those who abide in Christ will manifest the kind, forgiving courtesy that characterized His life. Their works will be works of piety, equity, and purity. They will have the meekness of wisdom, and will exercise the gift of the grace of Jesus.’ “-That I May Know Him, p. 185:1,2.
“We are placed in this world to be children of God and to prepare for the future immortal life. Speak no unkind, thoughtless words. As you associate in family relationship, be careful to speak kind, tender words, which will comfort and encourage. Do not forget the little acts of kindness which do so much to help the member of the family who is struggling with infirmities which no one but himself can understand.”-This Day With God, p. 225:2.