Volume. XXIX, No. 34
Sunday, 22 February 2015

From the Pastors Heart: Manners and Etiquettes - 2

Some people may think that manners, etiquettes, or courtesies are not very important topics we should consider.  They may consider that such matters are not spiritual issues, and we cannot find such vocabularies in the Bible.  I believe that there are plenty of examples to illustrate such matters in the Bible.  The book of Proverbs has many examples.  I have found very many interesting examples of good and courteous behaviors in the book. Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.  Though it speaks about neighbors, they could be friends or even family members.  These verses talk about a situation that one party is poor or deserves his portion, while the other party has means to offer him for what is due to him or what he needs.  However, the person who can offer the expected goods withholds them from him and tells him to go home and come back tomorrow.  This person will eventually give the goods to the person who will receive it, but what he does and says is not courteous.  If the receiver is a poor man who needs the goods badly, the giver is neither kind nor good.  Yes, the giver will give eventually.  Therefore, he cannot be accused of any crime or stealing, but he puts his neighbor down to be ashamed.  The giver should not have made the receiver ashamed of himself for begging.  He could have done his act of transaction kinder and more humane.  Proverbs 11:16a says, “A gracious woman retaineth honour,” while 11:17 says, “The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.   Proverbs 12:18 speaks about courtesy in our speeches: “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”  How we speak is as important as what we speak.  Proper manners in our speech are very important to any relationship.  15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”  I wonder how dramatically we can reduce the number of conflicts in our relationships, if we change the ways of our talks.  If we are courteous and keep proper manners and etiquettes while talking to our spouses, children or parents, we could see great improvements in relationships.  Verse 23 says, “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!  Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.  Here is another courtesy.  Proverbs 18:13, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”  Probably, Proverbs 18:19 epitomizes the necessity of being courteous to people:A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”  By being rule, impolite, unmannered, and not courteous, we offend our spouses, children, and parents. 


One weakness of many sincere and faithful believers of Jesus Christ is found in their attitude that they should not have any problems as long as they abide in the truth.  It is true that the truth matters and is important.  However, our manners/no manners, courtesy/no courtesy, or etiquette/no etiquette can make totally different impressions of the truth to the ears of the hearers.  For example, let me suppose that someone has greeted us in the morning, “how are you?”  However, his face is hard and stern without a smile, or he does not look at us while greeting us.  How would we feel about him and his greeting?  Or, the tone of his voice was dry, not pleasant.  We may get certain impressions about him, which will inevitably affect on our relationship with him.  If we are not talking about just acquaintances or strangers but our family members, problems will not be small.  Brian French says in his website, “Remember, the way you behave will determine the way you are perceived by others, be they family, employers, employees, friends, relations, neighbours, strangers, commuters and anyone else who crosses your path.  The reason that we ought to consider manners, etiquettes, and courtesies is because we are inter-related.  I am more than “I.”  I am a part of “we.” 


At this point, we need to consider one of the most familiar verses in the book of Proverbs.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Peter A. Steveson says in his commentary on Proverbs as following: “The initial command, ‘train . . .’ (hanok), states the need to prepare the ‘child’ (na‘ar).  The verb hanak occurs only five times, elsewhere all in connection with building and meaning ‘to begin the use of’ (or ‘to dedicate’).  You do not begin to use something that is unprepared.  That leads to the meaning here of ‘train.’  The phrase ‘in the way that he should go’ (literally, ‘according to his way’) is subject to differing interpretations.  The word, ‘way,’ derek, occurs seventy-five times in proverbs.  In only four cases does it denote an actual road or path; in every other occurrence it poetically indicates ‘a way of life or manner, actions.’  In addition, outside of v. 6, derek occurs with the "3ms" [third person masculine singular] suffix only eleven times in the book. In every case, it represents a way of life.  In several cases, parallelism demands that derek denotes one’s way of life or actions.  The word derek parallels God’s ‘works of old’ (8:22) and ‘depart[ing] from evil’ (16:17).  A contrast occurs between the careless keeping of one’s ways and keeping the ‘commandment’ (19:16).  Several times, derek parallels the thought of walking uprightly (14:2; 28:6, 18).  This leads, then, to the conclusion that derek here refers to a way of life.  The application most naturally refers to providing suitable instruction to a child.  His needs and potential guide the parents as they direct his development.  There is nothing in the verse that limits this to the spiritual area.  The maximum rather suggests that the full scope of the child’s training lies within the realm of parental guidance.  This sphere naturally includes the spiritual within its boundaries.  The guidance would embrace other areas as well” (Bob Jones University Press, 2001, 299-300).  


There are two lessons from Steveson’s commentary that we need to pay attention to: (1) Parents’ duty to train up their children is to prepare them for their future life.  It speaks about the importance of home education.  Parents are responsible to teach their children till they finally become independent.  Different cultures may have different ages set for children’s independence.  Some cultures keep children till they marry, some till 18 years old, or some till university graduation or having jobs.  I would suggest that children stay with their parents as long as they can and learn from them.  (2) Parents’ duty to prepare their children includes spiritual, social, and relational teachings.  It may include parental guidance for their vocations.  It also includes parental instructions over their responsibilities, social skills, manners, and etiquettes.  Parents teach their children about how to behave in public places, how to talk to people (greetings, thank-yous, pleases), or how to treat other people (elderly, friends, spouses, neighbors, parents, or authorities).  All of them are related to our concern for the day: manners, etiquettes, and courtesies.  We all learn from our parents about good manners and courteous attitude.  My parents taught me to rise up when seniors walked into my room.  They also taught me to give my seat to the elderly or the pregnant in public transportations.  They taught me not to talk back. They taught me to look at people’s eyes and to smile when I greeted them.  They taught me to say thank you and please.  They taught me that I should honor them.  They taught me about table manners, proper ways to talk to people, courteous manners to treat the poor and the needy, and to show respect to my teachers and to keep the laws in my country.  These are simple things, but they have molded my way of life and manners over the years.  I have also learnt that no or bad manners do offend people.  When parents fail to train up their children with manners and courtesies, their future life will reflect lacks of them, which will affect on their relationships. 


Would you see and examine if you say and behave with good manners in courteous ways?  Are you courteous to your husband, wife, father, mother, brothers, sisters, or whoever around you?



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Roster - Leader: Today: Bro Boong Atijatuporn. Next Lord’s Day: Dn Colin Gan.

*New Basic Bible Knowledge Class starts today. Please assemble in library upstairs at 1:45 pm.

*All new comers are invited for “welcome dinner” this evening. For details, please see any Session member.

*Catered Fellowship lunch today: Adult $7. Student/unemployed/pensioner: $5. Child under 5 years: Free.

 *2015 Easter Family Bible Camp registration & diet forms are available on the foyer table.

*No AFG on Saturday. AFG members are encouraged to join the Sparks & YAF Welcome Night on Friday.


Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Recovery from surgery: Rev Edward Paauwe.

4. Ministry in China, Malaysia & S’pore: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

5. Achieved veterinary science qualification: Bro Boong Atijatuporn.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

7. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.


Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Special Prayer: Rev Edward Paauwe (post-surgery); Bro Tien Lee’s father (post-surgery in Penang); & Sis Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan).

3. God’s strength, guidance & provision: Sis Wol Hee Kim & her two daughters (S Korea).

4. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).

6. Laos Missions: Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry.

7. New Life BPC (London) - Encouragement for congregation. God’s guidance & provision of a pastor.

8. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

9. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

10. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

11. Health in pregnancy: Sis Emily Zheng.

12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

13. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

14. God’s wisdom & guidance - for our Federal & State political leaders.

15. Working in Bundaberg: Sis Wendy Liang.

16. Studying in Tasmania: Sisters Kai Jun Chua & Agnes See.

17. Those affected by Cyclones Marcia (Qld) & Lam (NT). Australians to turn to God.



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