We’ve examined courteousness in the past (LINK), but I wanted to come back to this at least one more time. In that past discussion we examined the motivation for a scout to be courteous. We felt that it was behavior built out of a heart-felt respect for others: a desire to demonstrate hospitality and understanding even when the other person/people might be difficult to deal with.
In the 1911 version of the Boy Scout handbook, it says; “A SCOUT IS COURTEOUS. He is polite to all, especially to women, children, old people, and the weak and helpless. He must not take pay for being helpful or courteous.”
In the current BSA handbook it says; “A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.”
Scouts, take a look at the word “courtesy” — the dictionary says; “behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others“. What if, instead of looking at motivation for “behavior marked by polished manners” we try to figure out the “root” of those polished behaviors?
I think it would help us determine how we are to act – beyond “holding doors open” for people.
For a moment — think about times and places where courtesy would be elevated to an extreme art. Where or when would you be on your best behavior in terms of showing courtesy to others?
- In a courtroom in front of a judge?
- When talking to a policeman after he or she has pulled you over in your car?
- Meeting with your congressman or senator?
- Meeting the Queen of England?
- At the dining hall at summer camp?
Have you seen movies about the middle ages when knights and kings and noble people gathered together for formal events? Did they have a set pattern of behavior in how they addressed each other or bowed to each other?
This behavior was called “courtly manners” and covered all sorts of situations. For instance how and when you could approach the king, when you could speak or ask a question, whether you were never supposed to turn your back to nobility, etc. Nowadays we have relaxed these various rules of etiquette considerably, but if I were to meet a real king or queen I’d want to address them properly out of respect for their position of authority.
Could we agree that even modern courtesy is a code of conduct — a way of living in respectable relationship with other people — whether we know them very well or not at all?
If so, what do we learn from scriptures about relating to other people? [Note: you don’t have to be a “Christian” to be a boy scout, but in our troop, our families do share a common christian faith practice so we often extend our discussions to examine what we find in the Bible about our scouting ideals.]
How about these references as suggestions on Christian courtesy in relationships (NASB)? (Let’s have a scout read the reference, then we’ll discuss):
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Luke 6:31 — Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
1 Peter 2:17 — Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 — Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
James 2:2-4 — For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
James 2:8-9 — If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
1 Peter 3:8-12 — To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. “He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it. “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Titus 2:1-8 — But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
1 Peter 4:8-11 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
2 Peter 1:2-11 — Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:11-22 — Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
Colossians 3:12-25 — So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.
Scouts, I bet you could find a bunch more scriptures that deal with how we ought to behave around other people. Do you think that being courteous is just about holding open doors for people carrying packages or something more than that?
What will you commit to do differently this week at home, school, or in other places?