WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
OCTOBER 24, 2021
TOPIC: PRACTISE PROPER ETIQUETTE
BY T. O. BANSO
“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32 New King James Version).
It is one thing to be born again and another thing to have good etiquette. It is most important to give your life to Jesus to enter the kingdom of God but also important to have good etiquette to make the most of your relationships with men. Knowledge of etiquette helps in relationships with others. It contributes greatly to the success of your relationships.
Etiquette refers to rules of acceptable behavior. It is “the set of rules or customs that control accepted bahaviour in particular social groups or social situations” (Cambridge Dictionary). Adults are a product of the etiquette they were taught by their parents and they learnt by socialization. Adults who lack proper etiquette cannot teach the young ones. You cannot give what you don’t have. This is why there are children who lack etiquette. Their parents lack it, too. But some children refused to learn.
Every society has good etiquette it expects from members. There is proper etiquette for different occasions. If you’re going to get along with people, you should respect and practise etiquette. Although the word etiquette may not be used in the Bible, the Bible talks about good manners which is what etiquette is all about. A Christian should not lack etiquette. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says all things should be done decently and in order.
You cannot say you are born again and breach the good etiquette of the society you live in as long as it does not violate the Word of God. Peter and the other apostles said in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (New King James Version).
Some people create unnecessary problems for themselves by not having good etiquette and wonder why people are hostile to them. They could call it persecution! But it’s just a lack of wisdom, folly, or ignorance. Be conversant with the etiquette of your society. If you’re a foreigner or visitor, be sensitive to it, be quick to learn; be teachable. Adjust fast. As it is often said, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
I am not talking about sinful compromises. I am talking about the right manners peculiar to a people. What is considered good etiquette in one place could be viewed differently elsewhere. Some manners are considered impolite in some places but permissible in others as they mean different things. However, there are some rules of etiquette governing polite behaviour in society in general.
Parents should not fail in their responsibility to teach their children good etiquette. Otherwise, they will grow up to become adults who lack good etiquette and this will continue in their children. Nevertheless, nobody knows it all. Because one can find oneself in new environments or cultures, one must continue to learn about etiquette, practise it, improve one’s relationships, and teach others, too.
As a child of God, don’t act contrary to the good manners or right conduct expected in the society you live in. It could be different from what obtains where you came from. But for you to make the most of everywhere you are, respect the culture of the people and follow their good etiquette which does not go against the biblical injunction. I cannot overstress the point that if you’re going to enjoy good relationships with others, you should have good etiquette. It could even be the etiquette in a social, religious, or professional group.
In Luke 7, Jesus rebuked Simon, a Pharisee, for lack of etiquette. He didn’t show good manners in conformity with the etiquette of his society. Hear how Jesus rebuked Simon for lack of etiquette: “And He said to him, ‘You have rightly judged.’ Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil’” (Luke 7:43-46 New King James Version).
Simon violated the prevailing etiquette of reception of guests at that time. This varies from culture to culture but what is common is to make guests feel welcomed. Being a good host is important in your relationships with others. Adults need to practise proper conduct in showing hospitality and transmit the same to their children.
In Genesis 18:1-8, Abraham practised proper etiquette in the way he received the three men that visited him. He showed them hospitality though he didn’t even know their identity at that time. It was actually the LORD that appeared to him through these divine visitors. Hebrews 13:2 also talks about showing hospitality to visitors: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (New King James Version).
Here is another example of Bible teaching on etiquette as taught by Jesus in Luke 14:7-11: “So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: ‘When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (New King James Version).
Respect for elders is also taught in Genesis 31:35: “And she said to her father, ‘Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.’ And he searched but did not find the household idols” (New King James Version).
Rising before an elder was a sign of respect. It is still etiquette in some cultures today. Different cultures have ways of showing respect to adults similar to rising before them. It would be considered a lack of etiquette for someone, even if he is born again, to do otherwise. However, the actual reason Rachel didn’t rise before his father was to prevent him from seeing the household idols she sat on, which he was looking for.
Adults must know how to show respect for elders and teach their children also. Leviticus 19:32 also underscores the importance of showing respect for elders: “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (New King James Version). Bible in Basic English puts it thus: “Get up from your seats before the white-haired, and give honour to the old, and let the fear of your God be before you: I am the Lord.”
Sir or ma is a polite form of address while communicating. Children should be taught to use this. It could be considered rude to communicate with an older person or superior without putting sir or ma. Also, in some cultures, it’s bad-mannered to say “Good morning” to an adult or say “Hello” to an adult on phone without adding sir/ma.
Parents need to impress it on their children that it is not only older family members that they must respect but any person older than them and others, whether they are older, contemporaries, or younger – respect is reciprocal. 1Peter 2:17a says, “Show respect for everyone” (New Living Translation). Respecting others shows you have good etiquette.
A parent who doesn’t teach his/her children etiquette could be disgraced by the children one day. Parents should not just teach their children via instructions; they should also exemplify or demonstrate good manners. If the parents have etiquette, all other things being equal, their children will emulate them to a great extent as this becomes a family value.
Also in Proverbs 23:1-3, we learn about social etiquette – table manners: “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation presents the scripture thus: “When dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you. If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat, and don’t desire all the delicacies — deception may be involved.”
Other etiquette rules include showing respect for people’s privacy, observing proper telephone manners, sitting properly (especially as regards females), apologizing when you’re wrong, saying “Excuse me” when you bump into someone (even if you’re not a fault), saying “Please” when you’re making requests and “Thank you” for anything done for you, and avoiding embarrassing others.
There are several others of these rules of etiquette. Some are general while some vary from one society to the other. Follow them as long that they don’t violate the Word of God. Be a polite Christian. Avoid unacceptable behavior forbidden by the Word of God and that shows a lack of proper etiquette.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to always conduct myself in an acceptable manner consistent with the Word of God and showing good etiquette. I shall avoid unacceptable behavior. I will do everything decently and in order in Jesus’ name.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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