Someone who has good manners is always appreciated no matter what era they live, wouldn’t you agree? Being around someone who appreciates you for what you are doing for them is like a drink of fresh water to a thirsty soul. If I were to describe someone whom I believe to have good manners I would say that this person never fails to say please and thank you. They always open the door for others, they never interrupt someone who is speaking, they don’t gossip. They are calm and pleasant to be around. They are graceful and grateful filled with thankfulness and they make others feel valued and appreciated. If I were to summarize having good manners into one word it would have to be humble, they are humble and do not show partiality or unkindness. In other words they are the opposite of the world’s ideals of arrogance, pride, and social standing. So where do such persons learn such manners? The Bible, of course!
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, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
Christians should exude good manners, we should roll out the welcome mat of good manners to every person we meet. The Apostle Paul gives a wonderful listing of Christian manners in 1 Thessalonians. He begins in chapter five verse twelve with a request. He wants Christians to appreciate, value, and lift up those men and women who are working for the good of our local Christian church. The pastors are often criticized and so are the elders and deacons. The song leaders and praise teams are often fair game for criticism as well. Paul says this is not appropriate behavior for the Christian. Instead we are to lift the leaders and workers in our church up in prayer and we are to make it a habit to encourage them, thank them, and show them great love and patience and grace.
It is not an easy job to be a leader in any church. Sometimes tough decisions must be made and getting a majority consensus can be difficult. Knowing what is the right thing to do, what is the righteous path to take is not always clear and so we as the congregation should help these leaders by praying for them and encouraging them. There is nothing better for the over-burdened soul than a kind and loving word of encouragement. Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, janitors, secretaries, choirs and directors, all the people who work tirelessly within the congregation must be valued and appreciated or otherwise the church will not have workers and the church doors will close or become dysfunctional.
Paul lists several things such as living at peace with every person. This takes a lot of patience and understanding which God shows hourly to us and expects us to extend grace and mercy to others. Paul also says to take care of unruly situations. There will always be the rebellious to contend with and if the local leaders of the church don’t do some rebuking and correcting the whole body suffers and churches split. We are a family, a church family and we are to function as a family should by disciplining the rebellious and encouraging the down-hearted. We are to be a blessing to each other rather than an irritant. We are to show love as we would to our own biological family. We are to show kindness and build up one another rather than be mean and selfish. And as in our biological families there are those who become discouraged and tired so in our church family there will be times when someone feels weak and weary. It is during such times that we are to surround each other and encourage so that none perish, none walk away from God, and none feel unworthy.
How do we encourage each other? We make certain that everyone within the church family are treated fairly and not grudgingly. We are to pay each other good for good and not evil for evil. This is sometimes easier said than done but if we can give all our emotions up to the Lord and let go of our sorrows and grievances God will work though us. This can be a tremendous witness to others. How can this be accomplished you may ask? The latter part of the passage has a list of things we can do.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This is not an easy list to achieve. To be honest it is downright difficult to rejoice all the time. Rejoice that someone you love has died, rejoice that someone you love walked out of your life, rejoice that your house burned down or was flooded and life-long memories are destroyed, rejoice that your child, that baby you longed for and wanted so badly is born deformed. The list of people’s pain and suffering goes on and on and yet Paul tells us to rejoice always! Why? Because it is in the rejoicing that we realize who Jesus Christ is and what He did for us on the cross. We are not alone because Jesus sent from the Father our Comforter, the Holy Spirit! We can rejoice because we are a chosen child of God and we will overcome the evil that plagues our lives.
How do we rejoice always? The next few words explain that mystery, we turn to prayer and we pray constantly. Prayer is powerful and yet prayer is the only way to rejoice through our sorrows and burdens. We pray for ourselves, we pray for our families, we pray for our sisters and brothers in Christ. We pray for our country and for other countries and for missionaries and people we don’t even know! We develop an attitude of prayer and when we do this praying without ceasing becomes second nature to us and we know that we can’t live without praying! What happens when we pray without ceasing, without stopping?
We become thankful for everything …EVERYTHING! In my own life I had to become thankful that my brother died when I was eighteen, my sister died ten years ago, my Father died eight years ago, my Mother died three years ago. I had to become thankful that my spouse left me and divorced me and left me a single parent. I had to be thankful for all the years of illness and for all the surgeries that I’ve endured. I had to be thankful for the wonderful things that have happened to me as well as all the bad things. I am thankful that I am alive, that I survived, that I have even thrived! God has been tremendously gracious to me and I am thankful now more than ever I was in the past. Why?
I am thankful for everything that I have experienced in my lifetime until this very moment because God never left me, God never abandoned me, God never has been without love and compassion and concern for me. How do I know this? Because I feel it in my most inner being, I see it all around me, and I know it in my heart! God has been my life and without Him, without Jesus Christ, without the Holy Spirit I would be lost for all eternity. God’s will for my life was to experience everything that I have gone through because it is perfecting me by teaching me who God is and what God has done for me. I am nothing without Christ and what He did for me at Calvary. I am nothing without the love of my Heavenly Father shining down upon and through me. Praise God that His will for my life was to be a Christian and that I accepted the free gift of salvation He extended to me through Jesus Christ!
Paul wraps this section up with some don’ts! Don’t quench the Holy Spirit because it is the Holy Spirit that guides us, rebukes us, and comforts us on this difficult road called life! Don’t ignore scripture and what the prophets have spoken. Don’t forget to examine everything and measure it against the truth of the Gospel. Don’t give into evil rather hit evil head on with good because good overcomes evil every time! Hold on tightly to all things that are good because we know that all good things come from God. Hold fast to your faith. Hold fast to your hope. And most of all hold fast to your love for others. Stay away from everything evil and sometimes evil comes knocking at the doors of our lives in some pretty packages yet if we look closely and examine everything we will see that behind the pretty bow is an ugly evil thing and we will slam that door so fast it makes evil’s head spin! Christian manners are a must for every Christian because they are the over-flowing grace from God extended down to all of us. Oh how I have so much to rejoice over! Don’t you? Thank you for spending these few minutes together with me.
Until next time…Katherine