How To Have Good Manners
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted . . . (Ephesians 4:32).
For the child of God, showing supernatural kindness is a Christ-like characteristic that we can develop only as we walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Some time ago, my dear wife, Vonette, and I were writing training materials on social etiquette for our co-workers. The materials dealt with how to be a good host or hostess, how to be a witness for Christ as a guest, how to demonstrate gratitude when you are invited to a home, how to write notes of appreciation for hospitality given and how to send small gifts expressing thanks for favors. It was all a part of evangelism strategy in these situations.
As we labored over the work, it suddenly occurred to us that, though the instruction should be given, we could not effectively legislate good manners. We realized that good manners are the by-product of the Spirit-controlled life. If a person is filled with the Spirit and demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit, he will automatically be considerate of others. He will learn to do the right things. He will want to be kind and generous.
I am not against rules and laws, as they are needed. In fact, one of the greatest myths perpetuated in our day is that "you cannot legislate morality." Nothing could be further from the truth. Most laws of a culture are based on the moral code of that culture, such as laws against murder, rape and theft. In America, our laws were originally based on the Bible, and many still are.
While it is not true that "you cannot legislate morality," it is true that we cannot force people to be moral. Neither is it true that we can force Christians to always be loving, kind, good mannered, and to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, in our own strength we cannot exhibit that which can only come from the Holy Spirit.
What we can do, however, is to invite the Holy Spirit to continually fill and control us. That way, He will be in control of our everyday relationships, and His fruit will be manifested to others. It will not be because of rules, but because of His presence in us.
"So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit.... when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law" (Galatians 5:16,18, NLT).
Yours for fulfilling the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, "JESUS," which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Visit campuscrusade.com for more details
Copyright (c) 2003, Bill Bright. All rights reserved. However, readers may copy and distribute this message as desired, without restrictions in number, as long as the content is not altered. Forwarding this e-mail to friends is encouraged. For many evangelistic and spiritual growth materials, visit the Campus Crusade for Christ Web site at ccci.org. See campuscrusade.com for Bill Bright's own materials.