One morning as we were driving to Sabbath School, I noticed a sticker on the back of a bakkie (pickup truck). It read:
To the left of each phrase was a red triangle that stands for caution in road safety. Long after the truck was gone, 1 was still pondering how the messages of the caution triangles paralleled the practices in our homes. If the traffic department and the National Road Safety Association saw the need of courtesy on the roads, how much more should courtesy be practiced in our Christian homes?
First Triangle—Be Prepared
Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the great Scouts movement, adopted this motto for himself and for all his followers —"Be Prepared."
Do you leave from home the same time that your appointment is scheduled and then chase as fast as you can, trying to overtake all the traffic in front of you? Driving like this is not only dangerous, it is also offensive. Put your notepad, pen, keys, wallet, eyeglasses or whatever you may need in a designated place so that you don't have to look all over for them before leaving the house. See that you have enough gas in your tank so you don't have to fill up when you're already late for your appointment. Don't wait until the last minute to prepare for your outing. Set all your things in order as soon as possible.
What impressions are we giving others? Can they learn from us? Do they notice that we are well prepared for the jobs we do? Can they say we are polite to each other and to others? Are we patient with one another or only with those outside the home? Are we totally impatient with people and pride ourselves with the fact?
To be prepared means to take precaution, make arrangements, have forethought. In the Bible we read in John 14:1-3, that Jesus has gone to prepare a place in heaven for us. What happens if we are not prepared? We are worried and upset and Jesus tells us in verse 1 not to be worried or upset. Let's be prepared for our mansion in Heaven. "The family here must, as far as possible, be a model of the one in heaven" Ellen G. White, Adventist Home, p. 146.
"I urge you to prepare for the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. Day by day cast the love of the world out of your hearts. Understand by experience what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Prepare for the judgment, that when Christ shall come to be admired in all them that believe, you may be among those who will meet Him in peace" (Ibid, p. 550).
Second Triangle—Be Polite
Recently I mentioned to a single mother that her son is always extremely polite. I went on to tell her that he is always most courteous, well mannered, well behaved, and respectful. She said very humbly, "Thank you."
He is not handsome as some would judge by outward appearances, but handsome in his ways and actions! Her son did not know that I took notice of his good behavior and of his politeness. His wonderful, humble, Christian mother taught him that courtesy begins at home.
After Paul gave his testimony to Agrippa, he and other prisoners were handed over to Julius, a centurion. In Acts 27:3 (KJV) we read, "Julius courteously entreated Paul and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself." When we are courteous, polite and well mannered, people take you as a friend and recommend you to others.
First Peter 3:8 (KJV) says, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous."
"If we would have our children practice kindness, courtesy, and love, we ourselves must set the example. Courtesy, even in little things, should be manifested by the parents toward each other. Universal kindness should be the law of the house. No rude language should be indulged; no bitter words should be spoken. . . . Your courtesy and self-control will have greater influence upon the characters of your children than mere words could have" Adventist Home, p. 421.
How can this be attained? "Christian politeness is received only under the working of the Holy Spirit" (Ibid, p. 422). God will help you use your speech in a Christlike manner, if you pray for it and ask Him to help you.
"True politeness, true courtesy, is a kindness shown to all, high or low, rich or poor. The essence of true politeness is consideration for others" (Ibid, p. 423).
When Peter hung around before Christ's crucifixion, a servant girl recognized him and asked him if he was one of Jesus' disciples. Peter swore and said that he didn't know Jesus. Later the girl told Peter that his speech betrayed him; he talked like a Galilean. Are we sometimes like Peter and say a wrong or ugly word under pressure? As Christians, may we always act politely in every circumstance.
Third Triangle—Be Patient
Patience is a virtue. Galatians 5:22, 23 says, "But the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
In Proverbs 16:32 we find another illustration of patience: "Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." To be patient means to be calm, to have an uncomplaining nature, to have your spirit under control.
The Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy give us a good deal of admonition to be patient. "Speak gently. Never raise your voice to harshness. Keep yourself calm ... Be patient with them (your children) in their trials, which may look small to you but which are large to them" p. 436).
"Look unto Jesus at all times and in all places, offering a silent prayer from a sincere heart that you may know how to do His will. Then when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard for you against the enemy. When you are almost ready to yield, to lose patience and self- control, to be hard and denunciary, to find fault and accuse—this is the time for you to send to heaven the prayer, 'Help me, O God, to resist temptation, to put all bitterness and wrath and evil speaking out of my heart. Give me Thy meekness, Thy lowliness, Thy long-suffering, and Thy love' " (Ibid, p. 214).
Let every family seek the Lord more earnestly as we travel the road to Heavenly Zion by being prepared, being polite and being patient. We should practice these virtues not only with visitors and strangers but also with our dear, precious family. May we strive daily to show God's love in our everyday lives.