The Essence of Good Manners

The great underlying principle that guides all good manners is summed up most efficiently and exquisitely by Jesus Christ when He said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, …” (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

In this simple statement you have the yardstick by which any situation is best measured.  Put in common, modern parlance, the same thing can be said this way, “If you would not want it done to you, then do not do it to others because they would not like it for the same reasons you would not like it.”  No matter what the circumstance in which you find yourself, you can always apply the principle found in Matthew 7:12 to make a good decision concerning others.

The Apostle Paul amplifies this basic principle of good manners further when he said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

Admittedly, it is very difficult to consider others “better than” ourselves because of human pride and the fear of being taken advantage of.  But false pride is at the root of bad manners, and this is the very best way to attack that problem.  And yes, some people will take advantage of your generosity, but will you really give up anything more than false pride anyway?

Good manners do not ask you to give up life, limb, personal health or significant amounts of money.  Instead, it calls for civility and respect for others expressed in word and deed.  There is a balance to all things.  It might be a courtesy to give a ride to a stranger hitch hiking on the side of the road, but is this wise in today’s world?  In the old South one could do such things with scant fear, but today …?  No longer can it be said, “I rely on the help of strangers.”

In your consideration of those who do not return your good manners, remember this: you can sink to their level and become like them, or you can maintain your self-respect by doing what you know is right.  Forgive their transgressions because most of the wrongs are emotional stings to the pride or, very slight physical intrusions.  Such things can be overlooked, and in doing so you can help craft in yourself one of the greatest art forms of all: good manners.

Etiquette

The word “ticket” is French.  In the days of kings and queens, in France you had to have a ticket to enter the palace for any court function.  This ticket (or invitation) meant that you knew hot to act properly.

Why is it important to have good manners?  All people like to be treated with kindness, courtesy and respect.  Good manners are the rules that developed out of the need for one person to treat another person in a respectful, friendly and courteous manner.  Children, like adults, like to feel important.  Good manners cause adults to welcome your presence and treat you well.  Your popularity with others will increase.  People like to be friends with other people who have good manners.

Do not confuse good manners with conduct for special occasions such church, parties, weddings, etc.  Good manners are something you do every place and every day.  Our friendships and relationships are based on how we treat others on a daily basis.