Show perfect courtesy toward all people

—God

Our parents used to teach us to be polite, have good manners, and respect others. We were told not to be rude, selfish, or disrespectful. These things all describe our attitudes and behaviour towards others. These are difficult things to instil in children or perfect as adults, because they all really need a change of heart before they come easily.

In Titus 3:2 God requires of us as Christians to “show perfect courtesy toward all people“. But this is not only a command to polish our external attitudes and behaviour towards others. It is also a command to check our hearts. A proud man, with enough external self-control, can still be polite and courteous to everyone around him, but it is a humble man who is truly thoughtful, considerate, and gentle.

When Paul counselled some proud believers, he asked them if they would rather have him come with authoritative discipline, or with “a spirit of gentleness” (1 Cor 4:21). The first would fit their arrogant attitudes, but the second would model the considerate and courteous replacement of arrogance.

“Show perfect courtesy toward all people” is a call to a gentle humility. It is a call to be a little more considerate of others and a little less insistent on our own ways. It is a call to speak gently, seek to win the person more than the argument, and to bear with one another.

Evaluate your interactions each with other Christians, family and friends, and strangers. Confess to the Lord, for the sake of forgiveness, the behaviour that was disrespectful, rude, arrogant, and selfish. And put on a compassionate, thoughtful, gentle and humble heart (Col 3:12).