A friend and I enjoyed a bit of clearance shopping last week. As she gleaned one rack, I gleaned another. It was while scooting hangers left to right that a sweater fell to the floor. I bent over to pick it up and my sunglasses fell from their perch on my head. Quick as a wink, though, a nearby shopper (not my friend) retrieved them.
“Wow!” I exclaimed, taking back the sunglasses. “That has to be the fastest ‘pay it forward’ in history! Thank you!”
With a big smile for me, she returned to her shopping.
What a contrast to other shopping experiences, when someone has:
- Bumped past me with her cart without an “Excuse me.”
- Sauntered with two or three others down the middle of the parking lot lane, oblivious to the fact they’re holding up traffic.
- Walked through a door I have held open without saying, “Thank you.”
Common courtesy seems to be disappearing from society, as some people have allowed the constant pursuit of self-interests to turn into self-absorption. Perhaps they think worrying about other people’s feelings is a waste of time and energy. Others may see customs of politeness as downright archaic and puritanical.
The truth is, courtesy and consideration can do us a world of good. Research indicates that kind deeds release feel-good endorphins into our nervous systems. Benefits include diminished pain, decreased depression, and relieved stress. (1).
Of course, the Bible has taught the value of kindness all along (2).
Yet some folks cringe at the thought of teaching scriptural principles to our children in school or holding ourselves to those standards. “Legalistic!” they claim.
But would it be so horrible if we:
- Cheerfully greeted one another, even if we’re strangers?
- Allowed others to enter a building or aisle first?
- Held doors for one another?
- Treated service personnel (clerks, wait staff, attendants, etc.) with friendly respect?
- Said “thank you” at every opportunity?
- Followed the Golden Rule that Jesus taught (Matthew 7:12)?
Good manners are based on good principles; good principles are found throughout the Bible.
And Biblical principles not only provide positive impact on people (and our own nervous systems!), but may very well form the foundation of a strong nation:
“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws
will secure the liberty and happiness of a people
whose manners are universally corrupt.”
–American statesman, Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
* * * * * * * * * *
Oh, Lord, help me leave footprints of kindness wherever I go, to live out your Golden Rule for the benefit of others and for the praise of your glory. May others know I’m a Christian by the cross I wear and the love I share.
(1) Allan Luks, The Healing Power of Doing Good (2001).
(2) Examples include: Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:32, and 1 Peter 2:17.