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    Section 15—Graces that Brighten Family Life

    Chapter 69—Courtesy and Kindness

    Courtesy Will Banish Half Life's Ills—The principle inculcated by the injunction, “Be kindly affectioned one to another,” lies at the very foundation of domestic happiness. Christian courtesy should reign in every household. It is cheap, but it has power to soften natures which would grow hard and rough without it. The cultivation of a uniform courtesy, a willingness to do by others as we would like them to do by us, would banish half the ills of life.1The Signs of the Times, September 9, 1886.AH 421.1

    Courtesy Begins in the Home—If we would have our children practice kindness, courtesy, and love, we ourselves must set them the example.2The Signs of the Times, May 25, 1882.AH 421.2

    Courtesy, even in little things, should be manifested by the parents toward each other. Universal kindness should be the law of the house. No rude language should be indulged; no bitter words should be spoken.3The Good Health, January 1, 1880, par. 6.AH 421.3

    All may possess a cheerful countenance, a gentle voice, a courteous manner; and these are elements of power. Children are attracted by a cheerful, sunny demeanor. Show them kindness and courtesy, and they will manifest the same spirit toward you and toward one another.4Education, 240.AH 421.4

    Your courtesy and self-control will have greater influence upon the characters of your children than mere words could have.5The Review and Herald, June 13, 1882.AH 421.5

    Mutual Kindness Makes Home a Paradise—By speaking kindly to their children and praising them when they try to do right, parents may encourage their efforts, make them very happy, and throw around the family circle a charm which will chase away very dark shadow and bring cheerful sunlight in. Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a Paradise and attract holy angels into the family circle; but they will flee from a house where there are unpleasant words, fretfulness, and strife. Unkindness, complaining, and anger shut Jesus from the dwelling.6The Signs of the Times, April 17, 1884.AH 421.6

    The courtesies of everyday life and the affection that should exist between members of the same family do not depend upon outward circumstances.7The Signs of the Times, August 23, 1877.AH 422.1

    Pleasant voices, gentle manners, and sincere affection that finds expression in all the actions, together with industry, neatness, and economy, make even a hovel the happiest of homes. The Creator regards such a home with approbation.8The Signs of the Times, October 2, 1884.AH 422.2

    There are many who should live less for the outside world and more for the members of their own family circle. There should be less display of superficial politeness and affection toward strangers and visitors and more of the courtesy that springs from genuine love and sympathy toward the dear ones of our own firesides.9Ibid.AH 422.3

    True Politeness Defined—There is great need of the cultivation of true refinement in the home. This is a powerful witness in favor of the truth. In whomsoever they may appear, vulgarity of language and of demeanor indicate a vitiated heart. Truth of heavenly origin never degrades the receiver, never makes him coarse or rough. Truth is softening and refining in its influence. When received into the heart, it makes the youth respectful and polite. Christian politeness is received only under the working of the Holy Spirit. It does not consist in affectation or artificial polish, in bowing and simpering. This is the class of politeness possessed by those of the world, but they are destitute of true Christian politeness. True polish, true politeness, is obtained only from a practical knowledge of the gospel of Christ. True politeness, true courtesy, is a kindness shown to all, high or low, rich or poor.10Manuscript 74, 1900.AH 422.4

    The essence of true politeness is consideration for others. The essential, enduring education is that which broadens the sympathies and encourages universal kindliness. That so-called culture which does not make a youth deferential toward his parents, appreciative of their excellences, forbearing toward their defects, and helpful to their necessities; which does not make him considerate and tender, generous and helpful toward the young, the old, and the unfortunate, and courteous toward all is a failure.11Education, 241.AH 423.1

    Christian courtesy is the golden clasp which unites the members of the family in bonds of love, becoming closer and stronger every day.12The Signs of the Times, November 29, 1877.AH 423.2

    Make the Golden Rule the Law for the Family—The most valuable rules for social and family intercourse are to be found in the Bible. There is not only the best and purest standard of morality but the most valuable code of politeness. Our Saviour's Sermon on the Mount contains instruction of priceless worth to old and young. It should be often read in the family circle and its precious teachings exemplified in the daily life. The golden rule, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” as well as the apostolic injunction, “In honour preferring one another,” should be made the law of the family. Those who cherish the spirit of Christ will manifest politeness at home, a spirit of benevolence even in little things. They will be constantly seeking to make all around them happy, forgetting self in their kind attentions to others. This is the fruit which grows upon the Christian tree.13The Signs of the Times, July 1, 1886.AH 423.3

    The golden rule is the principle of true courtesy, and its truest illustration is seen in the life and character of Jesus. Oh, what rays of softness and beauty shone forth in the daily life of our Saviour! What sweetness flowed from His very presence! The same spirit will be revealed in His children. Those with whom Christ dwells will be surrounded with a divine atmosphere. Their white robes of purity will be fragrant with perfume from the garden of the Lord. Their faces will reflect light from His, brightening the path for stumbling and weary feet.14Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 135.AH 424.1

    The Best Treatise on Etiquette—The most valuable treatise on etiquette ever penned is the precious instruction given by the Saviour, with the utterance of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul—words that should be ineffaceably written in the memory of every human being, young or old:AH 424.2

    “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”AH 424.3

    “Love suffereth long, and is kind;
    Love envieth not;
    Love vaunteth not itself,
    Is not puffed up,
    Doth not behave itself unseemly,
    Seeketh not its own,
    Is not provoked,
    Taketh not account of evil;
    Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness,
    But rejoiceth with the truth;
    Beareth all things, believeth all things,
    Hopeth all things, endureth all things.
    Love never faileth.”15Education, 242.
    AH 424.4

    The Bible enjoins courtesy; and it presents many illustrations of the unselfish spirit, the gentle grace, the winsome temper, that characterize true politeness. These are but reflections of the character of Christ. All the real tenderness and courtesy in the world, even among those who do not acknowledge His name, is from Him. And He desires these characteristics to be perfectly reflected in His children. It is His purpose that in us men shall behold His beauty.16Ibid., 241, 242.AH 425.1

    Christianity will make a man a gentleman. Christ was courteous, even to His persecutors; and His true followers will manifest the same spirit. Look at Paul when brought before rulers. His speech before Agrippa is an illustration of true courtesy as well as persuasive eloquence. The gospel does not encourage the formal politeness current with the world, but the courtesy that springs from real kindness of heart.17The Ministry of Healing, 489, 490.AH 425.2

    We do not plead for a manifestation of what the world calls courtesy, but for that courtesy which everyone will take with him to the mansions of the blessed.18The Signs of the Times, August 13, 1912 (The Signs of the Times, May 7, 1894).AH 425.3

    True Courtesy Must Be Motivated by Love—The most careful cultivation of the outward proprieties of life is not sufficient to shut out all fretfulness, harsh judgment, and unbecoming speech. True refinement will never be revealed so long as self is considered as the supreme object. Love must dwell in the heart. A thoroughgoing Christian draws his motives of action from his deep heart-love for his Master. Up through the roots of his affection for Christ springs an unselfish interest in his brethren.19The Ministry of Healing, 490.AH 425.4

    Of all things that are sought, cherished, and cultivated, there is nothing so valuable in the sight of God as a pure heart, a disposition imbued with thankfulness and peace.AH 425.5

    If the divine harmony of truth and love exists in the heart, it will shine forth in words and actions.... The spirit of genuine benevolence must dwell in the heart. Love imparts to its possessor grace, propriety, and comeliness of deportment. Love illuminates the countenance and subdues the voice; it refines and elevates the entire man. It brings him into harmony with God, for it is a heavenly attribute.20Testimonies for the Church 4:559, 560.AH 426.1

    True courtesy is not learned by the mere practice of rules of etiquette. Propriety of deportment is at all times to be observed; wherever principle is not compromised, consideration of others will lead to compliance with accepted customs; but true courtesy requires no sacrifice of principle to conventionality. It ignores caste. It teaches self-respect, respect for the dignity of man as man, a regard for every member of the great human brotherhood.21Education, 240.AH 426.2

    Love Is Expressed in Looks, Words, and Acts—Above all things, parents should surround their children with an atmosphere of cheerfulness, courtesy, and love. A home where love dwells and where it finds expression in looks, in words, in acts, is a place where angels delight to dwell. Parents, let the sunshine of love, cheer, and happy content enter your own hearts, and let its sweet influence pervade the home. Manifest a kindly, forbearing spirit, and encourage the same in your children, cultivating all those graces that will brighten the home life. The atmosphere thus created will be to the children what air and sunshine are to the vegetable world, promoting health and vigor of mind and body.22Counsels to Teachers, Parents, and Students, 115.AH 426.3

    Gentle manners, cheerful conversation, and loving acts will bind the hearts of children to their parents by the silken cords of affection and will do more to make home attractive than the rarest ornaments that can be bought for gold.23The Signs of the Times, October 2, 1884.AH 426.4

    Varied Temperaments Must Blend—It is in the order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together. When this is the case, each member of the household should sacredly regard the feelings and respect the rights of the others. By this means mutual consideration and forbearance will be cultivated, prejudices will be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Harmony may be secured, and the blending of the varied temperaments may be a benefit to each.24The Signs of the Times, April 4, 1911 (The Signs of the Times, September 9, 1886).AH 427.1

    Nothing Will Atone for Lack of Courtesy—Those who profess to be followers of Christ and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous in words and deportment have not learned of Jesus. A blustering, overbearing, faultfinding man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike. The conduct of some professed Christians is so lacking in kindness and courtesy that their good is evil spoken of. Their sincerity may not be doubted; their uprightness may not be questioned, but sincerity and uprightness will not atone for a lack of kindness and courtesy. The Christian is to be sympathetic as well as true, pitiful and courteous as well as upright and honest.25The Youth's Instructor, March 31, 1908 (The Signs of the Times, July 16, 1902).AH 427.2

    Any negligence of acts of politeness and tender regard on the part of brother for brother, any neglect of kind, encouraging words in the family circle, parents with children and children with parents, confirms habits which make the character unchristlike. But if these little things are performed, they become great things. They increase to large proportions. They breathe a sweet perfume in the life which ascends to God as holy incense.26Manuscript 107, 1898.AH 427.3

    Many Are Longing for Thoughtfulness—Many long intensely for friendly sympathy.... We should be self-forgetful, ever looking out for opportunities, even in little things, to show gratitude for the favors we have received of others, and watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle help make up the sum of life's happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life's bitterness and sorrow.27Testimonies for the Church 3:539, 540.AH 428.1

    Through Social Relations Contact Is Made With the World—It is through the social relations that Christianity comes in contact with the world. Every man or woman who has tasted of the love of Christ and has received into the heart the divine illumination is required of God to shed light on the dark pathway of those who are unacquainted with the better way.28Testimonies for the Church 4:555.AH 428.2

    We can manifest a thousand little attentions in friendly words and pleasant looks, which will be reflected upon us again. Thoughtless Christians manifest by their neglect of others that they are not in union with Christ. It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be unkind to others and forgetful of their rights.29Testimonies for the Church 3:539.AH 428.3

    We should all become witnesses for Jesus. Social power, sanctified by the grace of Christ, must be improved in winning souls to the Saviour. Let the world see that we are not selfishly absorbed in our own interests, but that we desire others to share our blessings and privileges. Let them see that our religion does not make us unsympathetic or exacting. Let all who profess to have found Christ minister as He did for the benefit of men. We should never give to the world the false impression that Christians are a gloomy, unhappy people.30The Desire of Ages, 152.AH 428.4

    If we are courteous and gentle at home, we shall carry the savor of a pleasant disposition when away from home. If we manifest forbearance, patience, meekness, and fortitude in the home, we shall be able to be a light to the world.31The Signs of the Times, November 14, 1892.AH 429.1

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