One translation of Romans 12:2 says: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Phillips translation “The New Testament in Modern English”).
I particularly like the first part that says “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould,” because I believe we as believers are in a daily battle against conformity. Conformity to this world and its practices, its philosophies, its culture.
I’ve been talking about the absence of good manners in our world today, and this is one good example of how we can allow the world to squeeze us into its mold. I truly believe that every Christian should have good manners, not to please people, but to please the Lord.
What are good manners? Well, the list is quite long, but let me mention a few basic ones:
- Being careful to say please and thank you appropriately
- Allowing other people to go first
- Not interrupting others when they are talking
- Having good table manners, such as not eating until everyone is served
- Returning phone calls promptly
- Being on time
- Keeping promises
- Special respect for elderly people
- Demonstrating kindness on the road
These are just a few that come to my mind. When we fail to have simple good manners in our society, we pollute our environment. Relationships are damaged because we are not considerate of others. We raise the general stress levels of our society; it’s simply more stressful to do anything or go anywhere because you are likely to encounter rude people. Careers are harmed by lack of professional manners.
But for us as believers, most importantly, opportunities to be a witness for Jesus are lost if we don’t demonstrate good manners. The uniqueness of our faith is that we have been made new creations in Christ through his grace and mercy, and we now have the power of God’s Spirit within us to enable us to care about others with sincerity. That means that in everyday life we should want to be polite because it gives us a chance to show the love of Christ to others.
If your manners are not in good condition, it could be because you weren’t taught them as a child or you’ve been shoved into the mold of the world around you. Either way, it’s not too late. Make it a matter of prayer and begin to consciously practice good manners. And remember, start with good manners at home, and then see how God can use it to bring glory to his name.