True Christian courtesy is genuine. It is instinctive and spontaneous—the fragrance of the heart. It has been said that courtesy is like an air cushion—there is nothing in it, but it eases the jolts of life wonderfully. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Life is not so short but there is always time for courtesy." Jesus, while here upon earth, revealed Himself as the supreme example of courtesy. He was never too busy to be courteous. He blessed both the lowly and those of high estate. This characteristic was so instilled into His very being that while in the garden, He did not neglect to be courteous even to His worst enemy —Judas. He answered the betrayal kiss with "Friend, wherefore art thou come?"
In the rush of our modern business we, as Christians especially, should not forget the finer qualities of courtesy. Rather, many have learned to cultivate a certain brusqueness. But like a bright ray of sunshine, bursting through the clouds of selfishness, we find some who by their thoughtful acts of courtesy paint a picture of true Christian gentlemen and gentlewomen. These terms, sad to say, have become a bit old-fashioned, and to some minds an ideal almost obsolete.
Shall we say we have lost the art of living? No, turn to the daily papers ; there we find an etiquette column. Go to the public libraries, and there we find shelves lined with books which tell us in detail just how to act and dress on almost every occasion. What man or woman is there who has not turned to Emily Post for advice, or who has not gone to Dale Carnegie for the much-coveted information, "How to win friends and influence people" ? Nevertheless, we find a lack on the part of many when it comes to the little everyday acts of courtesy.
Courtesy is to life what the grace notes are to music. These little extra notes do not break the rhythm or harmony ; they instead add beauty and quality to the melody. Courtesy is the little extra kindnesses that make life most pleasant.
"Manners Made a Man" is the motto carved over the gateway of an ancient school in England. How true it is ! But when these manners are put on, or when they are used as cosmetics, there is no true value. It makes no difference how beautiful the physique or how striking the facial features, the lack of courtesy and kindness will be depicted in the very countenance.
A great railway system posted for the benefit of its employees an acrostic on the word "courtesy." With a few revisions each rule may be made applicable to us as Christ's employees.
C - ourtesy is a business asset—a gain, never a loss.
0 - fficers and workers, employees of Christ, above all should be courteous.
U - se courtesy in dealing with all people.
R - eal, true Christians win through courtesy.
T - he Christian should practice courtesy.
E - ven the discourteous like to be shown courtesy.
S - mooth away life's difficulties by being courteous.
Y - ou will find your value increased by being courteous.
In Volume IX of "Testimonies for the Church," we read : "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."—Page 189. Surely much depends upon being courteous. It is said that nine tenths of our dealings with people begin and end with casual contacts and are often never repeated. Why not make a lasting, worthwhile picture of true Christian courtesy in all our acquaintance?