Miracles like that performed at Cana when Jesus first showed forth His heavenly power, confirming the faith of His disciples, are being re-enacted by Him today. In godly Christian homes where loves rules, the faith of the children is likewise confirmed. Speaking of the influence of the devout mother as of infinite worth, the Spirit of prophecy tells us: "Her ministry of love makes the home a Bethel. Christ works with her, turning the common water of life into the wine of heaven." —Gospel Workers, p. 206. In such a home there is true courtesy.
The disparity between Christian courtesy and mere formal etiquette is great indeed. Under trial it becomes most evident. "Courtesy is one of the graces of the Spirit."—Ibid., p. 121. "Christianity will make a man a gentleman." —Ibid., p. 123. Love is the basis of true courtesy, and love is of God. "We love, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19 R.S.V.). It is not natural to love others as ourselves, but this God commands us to do. It is Christ's new commandment. It can be kept only as God, through the new covenant of grace, writes the law in our hearts. "The religion of Jesus softens whatever is hard and rough in the temper, and smooths whatever is rugged and sharp in the manners. It makes the words gentle and the demeanor winning."—Ibid., p. 122.
Though love is the gift of God, and courtesy one of the graces of the Spirit, the spirit of kindness does not grow of itself. Courtesy is rare and must be cultivated, even among ministers. "They need to cultivate that rare Christian courtesy which would render them kind and considerate toward the souls under their care." —Ibid., p. 382.
One reason for this lack of refinement is the barrier that some conscientious young aspirants to the ministry set up in their minds. They despise anything savoring of sham. They are "wearied by the superficial gloss that the world calls refinement."—/bid., p. 93. They would be, in all sincerity and with the best of intentions, their own natural selves. What a grave mistake they are in danger of making! "Not a few of those called to be co-laborers with the Master have failed to learn their trade. .. . They refuse to receive the polish and refinement that Christ desires His children to possess."—Ibid. This polishing and refining process is really one of the most important parts of their education. "It is a lamentable fact that the advancement of the cause is hindered by the dearth of educated laborers."—Ibid. "The most essential, enduring education is that which will develop the nobler qualities, which will encourage a spirit of universal kindliness, leading the youth to think no evil of any one, lest they misjudge motives and misinterpret words and actions."—Ibid., p. 334. We all, older ones as well as youth, should heed this admonition: "Let us learn from Christ how to combine a high sense of purity and integrity with sunniness of disposition."—Ibid., p. 122.
It is true that "the gospel does not encourage the formal politeness current with the world, but the courtesy that springs from real kindness of heart."—Ibid., p. 123. "Genuine courtesy . . • alone is of value with God."—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 196. The fact that there is a counterfeit makes it all the more important that the genuine be emphasized. In the very first book written by the messenger of the Lord, our ministers were warned against letting objectors draw from them harsh words: "Give the objections their weight, then bring forth the light and the power of the truth, and let it outweigh and remove the errors. Thus a good impression will be made. . . . Those who profess to be servants of the living God . . . must possess a kind, courteous spirit."—Early Writings, p. 102.
Christ gave us a worthy example in dealing with sinners. "To such a one, discouraged, sick, tempted, fallen, Jesus would speak words of tenderest pity, words that were needed and could be understood. . . . Though He was a Jew, Jesus mingled freely with the Samaritans. . . . [I-le] treated them with the utmost kindness and courtesy. And while He drew their hearts to Him by the tie of human sympathy, His divine grace brought to them the salvation which the Jews rejected."—Gospel Workers, p. 47.
We as ministers of His Word could accomplish much more if we had more of His spirit! "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. . . . Why do we not learn of the Saviour every day? Why do we not live in constant communion with Him, so that in our connection with one another we can speak and act kindly and courteously?"—Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 189, 190.