I’ve thought a lot lately about courtesy or the lack thereof in Christians.
This was prompted by a very positive experience in my local post office. When I arrived with my 20 books to mail, I was relieved that no one was in line. Experience told me that even though the packages were identical, they had to be weighed and metered separately. Shortly a woman who had been dealing with two large boxes at a nearby table got in line.
I told the clerk that I would pay for what he’d finished and let her go ahead. She insisted not. Then I noticed that one of my envelopes hadn’t stuck tightly. She offered me the packing tape in her hand, which was perfect to be sure my package stayed closed.
She chatted with the three-year-old who was with me and did not seem in the least perturbed. I thought of times when I’d felt so impatient in the same situation.
Then a man came in with one small package. I made him the same offer, but he assured me he could wait. Finally I was through and expressed my gratitude to them for their gracious attitudes. They seemed to think it was nothing.
But such courtesy is actually something: it is rare. Last week someone blew his horn at Steve because he stopped at a caution light. Wow! Even the longest light isn’t usually over a minute, though it may seem interminable. Was that person really in such a rush?
I love to watch for cars that need to get into or cross a line of traffic. It’s delightful to let that person out, especially when I get a wave of thanks. And do I always remember to give a wave of thanks when someone helps me in traffic?
Plenty of scriptures support Christian courtesy, especially the one known as The Golden Rule, commonly stated as ”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12.) My favorite is Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
And how about those grocery lines? One of my favorite memories is of being in a very sloooow checkout line—the only one open. (I won’t name the store, but it was not Kroger!) Finally the clerk apologized, saying that her scanner was broken and she had to type in each individual number on each order. We all groaned.
But the man in front of me turned around to face the line and grinned broadly. Then he said, “If Jesus Christ weren’t my Lord and Savior, I’d be getting pretty mad right now!”
After a moment of shock, the tension evaporated, and we all laughed and starting chatting with the strangers around us. I’ve never before or since heard a Christian testimony given so appropriately and acceptably.
I haven’t had that exact opportunity, but I may some day. Meanwhile, I want to let the person with five items in front of my cartload. I want to smile when a running toddler almost flattens me. I want to let others on and off the elevator first. I want to offer to bring a refill or some food when possible, whether to my own guests or relative strangers. I want to hug the person who looks bereft. I want to talk with the person I give money to on the street. I want to offer to run errands for a person who is shut indoors. I want to call and chat with the lonely. I want to share my financial blessings with those in need.
Why do I think of doing these things? Because they are what I’ve seen other Christians do, over and again. I’m encouraged by Christian courtesy I see all around me.
What are some examples you can give of public or private courtesies?