Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others…
—1 Corinthians 13:4-5
In the blockbuster movie Shrek, Mike Myers is the voice of an ogre. He’s grumpy and messy and “snotty.” He’s crude. But as the movie goes on, we meet Lord Farquaad, a finely cultured man brought up with etiquette. And as we watch this self-
centered snob, we discover who
really needs a lesson in manners.
Might it also be that we who follow Jesus could use a seminar in manners? During the 17th century, Puritans and Quakers got into heated debates. The great Puritan preacher Richard Baxter wrote a pamphlet in which he lumped Quakers with “drunks, swearers, whore-mongers … sensual wretches” and other “miserable creatures.” Quaker leader James Naylor then declared that he was “compelled by the Spirit of Jesus” to respond, and he characterized his Puritan opponent as a serpent, a liar, a “child of the devil,” a “cursed hypocrite,” and a “dumb dog.”
A wise Christian calls such attitudes a “crusading mentality.” Today such venom is more often seen between Christians and people of other faiths or opinions. People find points of disagreement, and immediately they start a crusade to “fix” them.
It’s good to be passionate, but Jesus tells us it’s more valuable to love. And love does not dishonor people—even those with whom we disagree.
Father, more than etiquette, we need your manners. Help us produce fruit of the Spirit and honor everyone. Amen.
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