Beyond Minding Your Manners:
Demonstrating A Servant's Heart
By Tamara Eaton
Many homeschooling families consider good manners important, but we want to go beyond "minding our manners" and understand what it really means to demonstrate Christlike love and a servant's heart toward all, regardless of position, income, race, background or outward appearance.
A few months ago, I observed a Christian friend in the check-out lane of the grocery store --this woman was known for her kindness and thoughtfulness toward others in our circle of friends, yet her manner toward the cashier was condescending and unkind. Since then, I've observed others behave in a similar manner to clerks, maids, waitresses and other "servants" who offered their services to others. The fact is, Jesus wants us all to be His servants and serve others with a pure heart, treating them as we would want them to treat us --but servants aren't always treated with respect, even by professing Christians.
If we're honest, most of us will admit there have been times in the past when we've had misconceptions about others from different backgrounds than our own. How do we change our own attitude and how do we teach our children so they won't fall into the same sinful trap? The first step is to recognize the problem, confess it as sin, and ask the Lord for help in this area.
"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves... If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin..." --James 2:1-4, 8-9
And note this serious exhortation and commandment from God:
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." --1 John 4:20-21
John doesn't say we should love only the brothers and sisters with a similar background --or those who happen to suit our personality and preferences! Ask the Lord to show you any areas in your own heart which are lacking. Pray that He will give you understanding so you can put His Word into practice in your life.
Look to His Word --it's filled with exhortations and examples of how we should view others and demonstrate a spirit of meekness and servanthood toward all. This is something parents need to model before their children, instead of merely teaching them the scriptures and hoping they will "do as the parents say, and not as the parents do". God wants to work in the parents' hearts so that they can be the examples their children need!
There is no "class system" in God's economy, we need to see others as valued in God's eyes, so they should be valued in ours. We want our children to understand that this is a heart issue, not just outward conformity to some perceived list of "good manners". Someone may know how to exhibit good manners, but it's how he acts when he thinks no one is looking that truly reveals his heart. And we know that God is ALWAYS looking!
In Ephesians, servants are urged to serve others "in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." --Ephesians 6:5-8
And masters are told to "do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him." --Ephesians 6:9
Of course, if we treat others well, it doesn't mean that we will always be treated well ourselves--but we will have a clean heart before God, which is most important. He will reward us according to the attitude of our heart, and as we do it unto the "least of these", we do it unto Him!
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." --Matthew 25:34-40
We've been talking about our attitude toward others, now let's talk about our attitude toward ourselves --if we're secure in who we are in the Lord's eyes, it's easier to humble ourselves to be servants to all. We need to find our worth and value in the Lord alone. Not in "externals" like expensive clothing, high salaries, degrees, titles, job position or any other labels. Not in whether we bake all our own bread, serve gourmet meals and have the cleanest house in the neighborhood. Nor in having the most children or in homeschooling "so well" that all our children score 100% on their achievement tests!
Our worth has absolutely nothing to do with what we possess or don't possess. God considered us of such value and worth that He created us in His own image and according to His likeness--and then gave His own Son to die for us after the Fall. We are seated in the Heavenlies, joint-heirs with Christ, we are complete in Him. Our value, our worth, our merit, has nothing to do with how much we possess --it has EVERYTHING to do with who we are in Christ and what God says about us.
I love what Kay Arthur said in her book His Imprint, My Expression:
"Your worth and purpose in this life do not depend on who you are, on what you have done, or on what has been done to you. Your worth and purpose do not depend on where you have been...Your worth and purpose depend on God and God alone--His will, His calling, His choosing, His love."
When we understand this, we can finally see how each human is so valued and precious in the Lord's eyes. This enables us to reject the world's attitude and standards toward others and make God's attitude and standards our own --and teach them to our children! Can you imagine what a difference it would make if each Christian responded to others with a true servant's heart? It could revolutionize the world! Let's begin today in our own homes.
Here are more principles to live by from God's Word:
"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." --Matthew 20:27-28
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." --Matthew 23:11-12
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." --1 John 3:18-19
"Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." --1 Peter 2:17
"Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." --Hebrew 13:1-2
"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men..." --1 Thessalonians 3:12
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." --Philippians 2:3
".... by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. " --Galatians 5:13-14
"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." --Romans 12:10,14,16-18,20-21
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."