“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” -Life’s Little Instruction Book
I have this quote in my Bible as it struck me to be a great truth. “You reap what you sow, you get what you grow.” Or, said a bit more eloquently, “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Happiness doesn’t just happen, it takes a choice. A well-mannered child or young adult doesn’t just happen; it takes great pains and careful attention to details. A fruitful life doesn’t just happen; it takes planning, discipline and great daily efforts.
Why bother? I do ask myself this question from time to time. Seems like this life is just a lot of work; seems like true success in this life takes a great deal of paddling upstream. Yep. Well, there is always the option of aimlessly drifting, but then those wretched consequences will only add more work for you. Here’s a great motto I came across for a family: “We are rowing, not drifting.” How’s that for one to hang across your door? Rowing against the current of common thinking, against the grain of the cut of the world, we are toiling forward, climbing upward and moving onward towards the finish line of our journey. Whether rowing or drifting, you’re going to end up somewhere. You might as well take to the helm and seek to safely guide your ship to a safe harbor.
In terms of motherhood and the rearing of the children God has temporarily placed in your care, the effort is well worth it. You are in charge of a long term building project. The teen years give others a good look into your craftsmanship, but the later years, when your children have their children, give a clearer look at the results of your labor. And by labor, I mean L-A-B-O-R.
In response to a need I saw in our young men, I wrote up a paper on etiquette for men. I’d like to share it with you through the next couple issues of Grace and Honor. Please feel free to contact me with any specific questions or concerns.
“The idea that constant politeness would render social life too stiff and restrained, springs from a false estimate of politeness. True politeness is perfect ease and freedom. It simply consists in treating others just as you love to be treated yourself.”
To the Gentlemen into whose hands this text finds its way, I challenge you to live your lives as becometh saints.
~Etiquette in Ephesians~
I shall begin this little text by encouraging you to read and reread the book of Ephesians. In it you will find many of the basic principles of etiquette that God has laid out. As some have said before, Jesus was a gentleman, a true gentleman: He gave fully of Himself; He put others first; He was gentle and patient with adults and children alike; He carefully instructed His fellow man.
Who We Are
As one who is numbered among the saints of God, you should be very concerned with your representation of the God that has chosen to limit Himself to work through vessels of clay. Etiquette simply refers to the conventional requirements for social behavior. It covers the rules of propriety for various social situations, ceremonies, etc. There are hundreds of rules that apply to specific situations. To learn them all would be a misuse of the time the Lord has given you. There may be very few occasions in your lifetime that would require you to know such specific details however, there will be many opportunities for you to be a true gentleman to those the Lord has placed around you.
Etiquette is not an end in itself. Having the knowledge of propriety makes you at home with both “commoners and kings.” Feeling comfortable and confident in social situations frees your mind to dwell on other, much more important and eternal things. I have found many wonderful examples of etiquette in the book of Ephesians that, if followed, should frame for you a basic outline by which to guide your actions in most social situations.
“We are His workmanship…created unto good works…walk therein.” God does not create chaos. He is a God of order, dignity, justice and honor. Seek to excel. Seek to make the characteristics that we will discover in the book of Ephesians the standard by which you live. A code of honor and grace should characterize your life. As I move through the book, I will highlight some areas and examples of Christian conduct. These areas will cover the Christian’s duty, his speech, his dress standard as found in chapter six of Ephesians, and the Christian’s manners at table. Throughout this whole text will run a common thread, the attitude that should cloak all of our actions: the example of love as seen in the life and death of Christ.
Let’s begin by discussing our position in Christ. According to God, we have all spiritual blessings. We have been chosen and adopted; accepted in the Beloved; forgiven of our sins according to the riches of His grace. He desires for those of us who believe to know the exceeding greatness of His power. We have been given all power, all everything because of Christ. He has made us alive therefore we must walk in newness of life. God has raised us up together for the purpose of shewing the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness to us through Jesus Christ. We had no hope and were without God, but now we are made nigh by the blood. We are fellow citizens with the saints and we are of the household of God. We have boldness in faith and access to Him with confidence because of His redeeming work.
Because of our position…
Because of all this and much, much more, we are to be followers of God, as dear children. He asks of us to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. We are His workmanship. We are His and He is ours…to the praise of the glory of His grace. We have access to the unsearchable riches of Christ. We are the children of God. We are His special creation, a trophy of His grace. What a position! What a responsibility!
According to God’s word in Ephesians, we are to be faithful, without blame, holy as sons and heirs to the praise of His glory, trusting in Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit. We are to be thankful for other saints and their testimonies, asking for the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened that we would know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”. (1:17-18)
We are thankful for all that He has done for us. We are humbled by His glorious kindness. This attitude of heart and humbleness of mind places us in a position to fulfill Christ’s commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
As seasons of life change, Elizabeth happily remains desperately dependent upon her God. Two of her four children have now branched off to begin their own families. She is a homeschooling veteran and a faithful wife of almost 30 years.