Man's life will not be higher, deeper, or nobler than the standards he has lifted and the principles he has idealized. Many are satisfied to drift along in the common way of life, failing to give due attention to the high type of courteous service that adds genuine beauty, strength, and power to Christian ministry.
The Son of God was the living embodiment of such Christian ideals. He exemplified the high standards of true courtesy and genuine politeness. In His life there was an elegance of refinement, a beauty of character, and a kindliness of spirit that won the hearts of men. Grace was poured into His lips that He might "know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary."
Every minister and gospel worker would do well to study the superb pattern given us by Christ, and to cultivate that spirit of courtesy, refinement, and geniality that will prove a blessing and power in all service for God. The inspired admonition is, "Be pitiful, be courteous," "Let your speech be always with grace," "that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Many times, however, a lack in these finer essentials in the ministry, results in the loss of both friends and influence.
Politicians, business men, and solicitors study to be congenial, kind, and polite. It is their policy to be as pleasing as possible, that they may thereby exert the greatest influence. The gospel of truth does not, however, encourage the mere formal politeness that prevails in the world. The grace of Christ, with its purifying, ennobling influence, will do more for us than all the worldly polish that is considered so essential. The love of God, cherished in the heart, will appear in self-sacrifice and true courtesy.
"Treating a customer like a rich uncle, so that you may extract his coin, is not courtesy —that's foresight. Offering your seat to a man who enters your office is not courtesy—that's duty. Listening to the grumblings, growlings, and groanings of a bore, without remonstrance, is not courtesy—that's forbearance. Courtesy is doing that which nothing under the sun makes you do but human kindness. Courtesy springs from the heart; if the mind prompts the action, there is a reason; if there is a reason, it is not courtesy, for courtesy has no reason."
One can scarcely overestimate the value of courtesy in the ministry and in the home. All coarseness and roughness should be put away. There are those who are kind at heart, but lack kindness in manner. They are sadly deficient in geniality. This lack mars their own happiness and detracts from their service to others. True courtesy, which alone is of value to God, is not learned by mere practice of the rules of etiquette; it springs from a heart flooded with kindness, which is implanted there by divine grace. It manifests itself in a sweetness of disposition and a gentleness of manner that can never be equaled by the superficial polish of fashionable society.
Men were awed by the moral dignity and holy fervor of the Son of God. His gentle disposition and courteousness won their love and confidence. If His representatives would see fruits attending their labors similar to those that crowned the ministry of Christ, they should strive to emulate those traits of character that were manifest in His life. The servant of God has said:
"A kind, courteous Christian is the most powerful argument that can be produced in favor of Christianity."—"Gospel Workers," p. 122. "If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."—"Testimonies," Vol. IX, p. 189.
"Courtesy, also, is one of the graces of the Spirit, and should be cultivated by all. It has power to soften natures which without it would grow hard and rough. Those who profess to be followers of Christ, and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous, have not learned of Jesus. Their sincerity may not be doubted, their uprightness may not be questioned; but sincerity and uprightness will not atone for a lack of kindness and courtesy."—"Prophets and Kings," p. 237.
There is a holy joy in cultivating pureness of thought and courteous demeanor, and in speaking sympathizing words and doing kindly deeds. "Christ values acts of heartfelt courtesy. When any one did Him a favor, with heavenly politeness He blessed the actor."—"The Desire of Ages," p. 564. From those who perform such service, the light of Christ shines to brighten lives darkened by many sorrows.
God is testing His followers, and would lift each to a higher plane. "In all holy conversation and godliness" they are to represent Him. With delicate tact, quiet geniality, and tender compassion they are to go forward and upward in true elevation, rendering noble and courteous service, thus making manifest the genuine goodness implanted in the heart by the refining touch of the Master Workman.
Washington, D. C.