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In Pursuit of Holiness

In our journey toward holiness, where we are set apart by God for His holy purposes, we often emphasize spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and benevolence. While these are undoubtedly essential aspects of our walk with Christ, we must not overlook the profound impact of something seemingly simple yet profoundly significant: courtesy; some might call it civility.


As a pastor, I want to explore the truth encapsulated in the saying, "There is nothing that costs so little nor goes so far as courtesy," in light of our pursuit of holiness, especially when it involves treating others with dignity and respect, even when they don't seem to deserve it.


Courtesy and civility, in essence, are the practices of showing graciousness, respect, and kindness toward others, even when faced with challenging circumstances or individuals who may not seem deserving of such treatment. They encompass acts such as using courteous language, offering a helping hand when nobody is watching, listening attentively when others are loud, and treating others with dignity and respect, regardless of the situation.


Some may argue that courtesy or civility, much like respect, should be earned. However, let us consider what Christ encourages us to do. In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus says, "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Christ's teachings challenge us to extend courtesy and civility even amid persecution, blasphemy, or irreverence.


In this context, treating others with dignity and respect, even when they don't seem to deserve it, becomes an embodiment of Christ's love and a reflection of our pursuit of holiness. It is a radical departure from the world's standards and a living testimony to the transformative power of our faith.


Courtesy and civility in the face of adversity are beautifully exemplified by Christ Himself during His crucifixion. In Luke 23:34, as He hung on the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This act of divine courtesy and civility, even amid unimaginable suffering and injustice, is a powerful reminder of our calling as Christians to emulate Christ's character.


In the writings of Christian authors like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we find the concept of "costly grace," which emphasizes that grace is not cheap and calls us to live out our faith with unwavering commitment, even when faced with hostility or indifference. Courtesy and civility, when extended to others, reflect this costly grace and manifest our holiness.


In conclusion, "There is nothing that costs so little nor goes so far as courtesy and civility." This simple truth aligns perfectly with our pursuit of holiness. Courtesy and civility, especially when they involve treating others with dignity and respect, even when they don't seem to deserve it, are not mere politeness; they embody Christ's love and reflect our calling to be set apart for God's sacred purposes. Through these acts, we live out the teachings of Christ, challenging the world's standards and testifying to the transformative power of our faith. May we all strive to embrace courtesy and civility as powerful tools on our journey toward holiness, following Christ's example and extending His love to all.

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