Maybe this isn't a post for my regular readers... but it might be. Or maybe this post will just be one to refer to in future discussions. Definitely more practical than philosophical.
Well, yeah, that's what my mom always said!
But have you ever really thought about what manners are and what their purpose is? Manners are actions or words used to make everyone around you as comfortable and non-distracted as possible. But does this really make a difference to a Christian?
When you are having a conversation with someone, do you notice them doing things you were taught weren't polite? For example, as kids, we were not allowed to have our elbows on the table. Now, when I'm eating with someone, if they put their elbows on the table, it distracts me, even if only momentarily. The same goes for chewing gum in church, using language that is crude (not necessarily swearing, just unpleasant words), and cracking knuckles.
The point is, Satan will use whatever he has to to distract people from the Gospel, even bad manners. When someone displays poor manners, they are saying, even unintentionally, that they are the most important person in the room and they don't care what you think.
I've been told that having an attitude of not caring what people think is a good thing, and it probably is. Nevertheless, we must be aware that some actions completely repulse people. Without them, you are not that much at a loss, but your friends may be greatly benefited by them. You will never offend people by your lack of crudity, but rather attract people by your abundance of consideration.
Let me give another example in a slightly different direction. Recently, I was discussing an issue with a friend of mine concerning a recent news story about a boy not being allowed to wear a shirt with a confederate flag to school. While I agreed with the young man about it being an encroachment on our American liberty, I disagree that we should actually protest it, or intentionally wear that symbol (or any other one, for that matter) to make a statement. A common saying in this time is to "wear your heart on your sleeve". Let everyone know all of your opinions and vehemently defend them at all times.
But who are we proclaiming to the World? Ourselves? ... or Christ? In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul gives himself as a model for how we should act. We're preaching Christ and Him crucified. Verse 11 talks about living Christ in the flesh. We are living like Christians (little Christs) at the expense of who we are.
Now before you decry my statements as too harsh and impossible... consider this; when you purchase a Mac, you are communicating, in a way, that you want to be associated with that brand. You wear a Superman shirt because he's cool. You are continually preaching something - why must it be something of this World and not of Christ? Live your faith - in what you say, do, and display to those around you (1 Timothy 4:12)
Because of Him,