August 16, 2013
Etiquette has five whole sections on how we are to interact with others personally. Of the eight-section book, most of it is about how to treat others in a very personal way. These aren’t ways to tie ties or how to pick stationary or what to put on your resume. No, these are 462 distinct, intentional pages of how to consider others and their feelings.
As Christians, we should not be so unfamiliar with this. We are called by Paul to belong to one another. We are not our own, which we know, purchased by Christ. But we are also called to submit to one another (Eph. 5:21) and to remember that we, through love, must serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
So then, why is it that we find ourselves living very selective lives? Around the seminary, plans are made and broken often. And it’s alright some of the time. You get a cold. The baby gets a cold. Your computer crashes. But sometimes, something better just comes up. What is it in our hearts that desires to plan around our own wants? How often have you turned down an invitation (or worse, put off answering) until you find one that sounds more amazing? We are all guilty of this. But what does it say about where our priorities are?
Emily Post reminds us that we should always be honest. If you don’t want to go on a date with that guy, say so. Do it nicely, but don’t lead him on. If you ever have to answer any kind of invitation at a later time, always give a reason. When you say, “I might be able to. I’ll let you know.” It can come across as not really wanting to spend time with the person inviting you. This is rude, according to Post. Instead, she urges you to say, “I’ll let you know tomorrow—I’ve got to talk to my roommate.” Or something that communicates the truth and lets them know that they are not just getting the brush off.
Ah, the brush-off. The I-am-going-to-be-vague-because-I-don’t-want-to-be-mean-and-I’m-hoping-something-better-comes-up brush-off. You know the one.
Our social relationships at the seminary, at church or even where we live is not something that is supposed to tailor to our own desires. If someone invites you to dinner and you later get offered tickets to a Red Sox game, don’t cancel. If someone asks to study with you but you find out that a group of other students is studying somewhere different (like a favorite coffee shop,) don’t deter your plans. Living in community means that we have to give a little and not simply take. The real world isn’t Facebook or Instagram. Your life doesn’t always have to the best possible option that’s been presented. Rather, it should be the kind, considerate, respectful option.
Honor your commitments, friends. For in doing so, you honor one another and you honor Christ.
Melissa Zaldivar is an MATH student from California. She loves golf, theology, Jewish holidays, people falling in love, Jonathan Edwards, chocolate chip cookies, her adorable niece and telling stories. When she's not filming and photographing weddings, you can find her reading news articles, watching Parks and Recreation or playing Super Smash Bros.
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