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What the Bible says about Courtesy, Lack of
(From Forerunner Commentary)

2 Timothy 3:1-5

The reason we have such a lack of courtesy in today's world can be found in II Timothy 3:1-2, where the apostle Paul writes: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves. . . .” He goes on to list about eighteen more traits people will exhibit in the end time, but he leads the list with “lovers of themselves.” If we are first and foremost in our lives a lover of ourselves, then we are never wrong. We are always first, and, we think, deservedly so! The left lane is ours! We are the direct opposite of “humble.” We could not be courteous if we tried.

Consider verses 2-5 from the Contemporary English Version. Remember that Paul is speaking of the last days, and note how each of these traits relate to courtesy:

People will love only themselves and money. They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents. They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless and hateful. Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity. These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride. Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure. Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won't be real. Don't have anything to do with such people.

Powerful words, indeed. Perhaps the reader thinks that I am making too much of the lack of courtesy around us. Maybe so. But it is something foundational, something basic, to a Christian life. A humble and God-fearing person will naturally be courteous. If we esteem others greater than ourselves, we will be courteous. If we are striving to live in accordance with God's laws, we will be courteous.

So, does this mean that by simply saying “please” and “thank you,” we will be in God's Kingdom? No, it is not quite that easy, but it is a start! Conversely, it is probably safe to say that those who are impolite and rude will not like their reward at all. As the sign says, “Keep Right.”

Mike Ford
Courtesy

Titus 3:1-2

The ISV renders the Greek word praiotes as “courtesy,” while other versions translate it as “meekness,” “gentleness” or “humility.” The ISV has taken some liberties, but it gives a sense, in today's English, of what Paul is saying. A humble attitude is necessary to show courtesy to others.

So, if the English “courtesy” is not literally in Titus 3:2, is it elsewhere? The Greek word philophron, which translates directly to the English “courtesy,” is used only once in the Bible. It comes from two other Greek words, philos, meaning “friend,” and phren, meaning “understanding,” “perceiving,” and “judging.” These two words indicating “understanding a friend” are put together to suggest the idea of courtesy.

Philophron appears in I Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (King James Version). Many translations interpret philophron as “kind” or “humble,” and this is correct as well. Both Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Strong's Concordance define philophron as “friendly” and “kind,” but Strong's goes a little further, saying it can be summed up as the English word “courteous.”

Mike Ford
Courtesy

1 Peter 3:8

In I Peter 3:8, the apostle uses only seven Greek words, whereas the King James employs nineteen to get the meaning across. At the risk of boring the reader, we will look at I Peter 3:8 in the Greek, as if it were in an interlinear Bible: Telos pas homophron sumpathes philadelphos eusplagchnos philophron. Here it is, word by word, with English equivalents and a note or two:

Telos (finally, in the end, to sum up)

pas (individually and all, each and every one of you, collectively)

homophron (of one mind, in accord with one another; used in the New Testament only this once)

sumpathes (suffering or feeling the same with one another; used only this once)

philadelphos (love as brethren, brothers and sisters, countrymen; used only this once)

eusplagchnos (compassionate, tender-hearted; used just twice)

and finally, philophron (friendly, kind, courteous; used only this once).

The apostle Peter is here summarizing his instructions from the previous 20 verses, going back to I Peter 2:17. That passage deals with relationships: how to get along with brethren, mates, and the world at large.

We could paraphrase I Peter 3:8 like this, which sounds a great deal like The Amplified Bible: “In summation, each and every one of you, individually and collectively, have compassion, sympathy, even empathy for one another, loving everyone as if they were your family; be compassionate and courteous.”

The only way to do what Peter recommends is to consider others more important than ourselves. This can be quite hard to do in this competitive world we live in. We have to win in everything. We have to be in the fastest line at the bank or store. We have to ensure no one breaks in line ahead of us. We have to close up on the car ahead and not leave a gap to allow another car to cut in.

If we fail to do these things, what happens? We are life's losers, right? Of course not. There is no pain in living a courteous life. It does not cost us a thing to tell someone, “No, you go first.”

Why has our society coarsened? Is it because our schools for decades now have emphasized how “special” we all are? We have many adults now who cannot read or write very well and who know little history or math, but they feel really good about themselves! They have high self-esteem. Anything that comes their way is deserved or owed to them because we have taught them that.

Or are we less polite because, as a people, we drift further from God every day?

Mike Ford
Courtesy


 




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