A short definition of courtesy would be “polite behavior that shows respect for other people.” Does God have anything to say about courtesy? Remember the “Golden Rule”? Jesus exhorts His disciples in Matthew 7:12: “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the law and the prophets are all about” (Contemporary English Version).
If we truly lived by this, we would always treat others with courtesy. Chivalry would not be dead. For those younger folks who may not know, chivalry was an ancient, knightly code emphasizing the virtues of service to others, honor, love, and courtesy.
Consider, for instance, how we treat the “hoary head(s)” among us. Leviticus 19:32 commands us: “Show respect for old people and honor them. Reverently obey Me; I am the Lord” (Good News Bible). There have been times when I have come up on the rear of a slow-moving car and muttered, “Come on, grandpa, let's go!” only to remember that I, too, am a grandpa!
In all seriousness, though, do we revere the older folks as we should? Do we encourage our children to go last in line at a potluck? Do we take the time to do the simple things like teach our kids to look an adult in the eye when he or she speaks to them? Do we insist that they say, “Yes, sir [or ma'am],” not interrupt an adult conversation, hold doors for them, and generally, as God urges, “Show respect for old people and honor them”?
Why would we be impolite to the elderly—or anyone, for that matter? Why not move over on the road and let others going faster drive by? Why be rude to sales clerks and wait staffs? Why not use the simplest of courtesies like “please” and “thank you”?
The apostle Paul gives the answer in Philippians 2:3: “Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves” (Contemporary English Version). Now that is truly a hard thing to do. I can hear it now: “Treat others more important than moi? How can that be? The left lane was built for me! All others must go around. Why, if I were to move over and let you by, then I would lose face. I would be admitting defeat. I would be a loser in life's rat race.” Most people fail to consider that, even if they win the rat race, they are still a rat!