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Because Nice Matters

December 10th, 2008

“Courtesy honors the dignity and individuality of other people, and treats them accordingly.”

My wife, Gayle, has a small plaque in our home that simply reads, “Because Nice Matters!” Those simple but powerful words have become the everyday expression of her daily life and practical ministry to others – in what she does, in what she says, in how she regards and values all others, and in the time and sacrifice she gives to anything she does in order for that to be the best she can offer for others’ pleasure and enjoyment – simply because nice matters, because people, every one of them, matter to God and that makes them matter to her.

My parents and grandparents often spoke of something they called “common courtesy” which I came to understand referred to simple acts of consideration of others – being respectful and mannerly toward others. Common courtesy is a social civility that one should require of himself/herself that others will expect of you. I fear that common courtesy is no longer all that common.

I observe extremes with which people speak and relate to each other. On one hand, today’s culture permits a shallow familiarity of using first names and often inappropriate conversation of very personal and private information with mere acquaintances, or even total strangers, sometimes. That appears to me more presumptuous and intrusive than friendly, as is probably intended.

Meanwhile, others find it acceptable to totally ignore people, passing them without so much as a nod or polite “hello, or excuse me,” while overlooking another person as though irrelevant, hardly needing their notice. Somewhere between those extremes is a happy balance – a common courtesy that honors the importance and individuality of other people, and treats them accordingly.

I think a basic courtesy is a proper and Godly response to recognizing the dignity due every individual in some measure. Your sense and practice of courtesy toward others can evidence your regard or lack of regard for yourself and others. In reading other translations of today’s verse, I discovered that most use the words, “humility or humble minded” where the King James Bible reads “courteous.” The original Greek word is “philophronos,” – a combination of two words (brotherly or friendly, and minded) that mean “treating others with friendly thoughtfulness.”

How you treat others, and speak about or to others, in common, everyday exchanges actually reflects how you view others in relationship to yourself. Have you found that it is easy to be kind and considerate with those you particularly regard. That usually is a characteristic of humility, viewing yourself properly, not proudly? But have you ever been less than considerate or respectful with those you might consider, even unconsciously, as less expecting of ordinary social graces like a pleasant greeting, the simplest acknowledgment, or an offer of helpful assistance. That could demonstrate any lack of humility – living without the courtesy of friendly thoughtfulness.

The Bible says, “be courteous . . that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9. Common courtesy could be your entrance to some very uncommon blessings, because nice matters to God!

My prayer for you today is: regard others as Jesus regards and relates to you. John 13:34.

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