Mention Emily Post to young folks today and they may wonder if she is in the room, expected soon or if she is on Facebook. And yet what she has to offer everyone is necessary even in our modern times. Emily Post lived from 1872 – 1960 and wrote the book on etiquette, much of which we may be following and not know it.
Growing up for her meant cotillions and grace, respect and manners in large doses. It is always important to understand the times and places of those who write so we can better understand their points of view in their culture and period of life.
“Good manners reflect something from inside - an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self,” she wrote. Long before Ms. Post, Jesus pointed out to a host, his failure in not greeting him properly when he came to his home for a meal. Etiquette helps govern how we behave in social settings no matter what century we find ourselves.
Some say rules are made to be broken, while people with manners know rules help to keep order and show respect for others. Simon the Pharisee, was quick to point out that what Jesus was doing before him and his other guests was all wrong and he should be aware of the “sinner” who was dotting on him.
Ahh. Will we ever be free of people who have adverse opinions to those of our own? Probably not. The first thing I would like to note is that this woman was not, nor in her position could she be, an invited guest. It was like she walked in barefoot with her love beads dangling into a gathering of people dressed in gowns and tuxedos.
Do you feel like that sometimes, like you could never fit in? Then listen to Jesus as he puts the man in his place about the uninvited guest and the proper etiquette for his day and time.
“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little,” Luke 7:44-47, NIV.
If there was ever a rule of etiquette to be followed it is the one that God himself established when he had John 3:16 penned. That's the “whosoever will” verse often quoted. If the church, the believers, ever fail to acknowledge that coming to Christ is an all inclusive right and proper, then my friend we have ourselves fallen from the very rules of the culture of the Kingdom of God by denying a lost soul to be a part and we need to have it pointed out to us.
This is one time when a woman broke the rules and traditions of her time because she wanted what Jesus offered and ignored the rules of her society and barged in boldly. She could see the love Christ had for her. She broke down in front of everyone. She melts and tears flow down her face. She let her hair down... another no, no in those days, even grounds for divorce.
It didn't matter. She wanted the forgiveness that Jesus offered. She loves Jesus for providing that for her and anoints him as an act of acknowledging him as Lord and Savior.
Simon was confronted with understanding his level of being conformed to the image of Christ. We each have to look inward and see what patterns do not fit with the proper etiquette of a believer of Jesus Christ. Are we a deceiver? Do we relate to our spouse in love? Are we greedy? Do we have a problem with our tongue, a temper, a poor attitude?
If you ask God to keep you humble, he will. You won't like it, but he will honor your request. The only response that will bring health and wholeness in our lives is to say yes to the Father and then live it out. He always gives us an opportunity to conform to his image. We are not to ignore the need of making practical changes and applying daily disciplines that will help us to grow in spiritual sincerity.
Never feel ashamed about your need of Jesus. He is never embarrassed by your arrival. There are no set rules of when or where. Won't you stop resisting? Won't you stop debating? Won't you stop denying your need of Jesus?
He is here. Ask him to come into your life today and begin your new life in him. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you anew and to grant you strength for a changed life. It's his acceptance you need, not the world's.
“I am about to do a brand-new thing.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” Isaiah 43:19
Have you ever used the phrase, “It's the same old thing!” Well, for everyone that means one of two things. Either you like where you are and you prefer things don't change or you haven't the courage to leave the safety of your “shore” to discover new oceans. It is a natural pull for us to move toward what is convenient and comfortable. It is a supernatural pull to do things God's way which take us out of that comfort zone.
I find great comfort in doing repetitive things for hours on end. I can relax in the rhythm of whatever project I'm into... like when I had honey bees and parked a lawn chair a few feet from the hive to watch the hard working bees in their everyday activities... or cutting quilt patches for hours and hours... or reading a “can't put down” novel.
I'm grateful for the ability to be fully engaged in what I'm doing or be passive and drift into a place where I am able to wonder about the wonder of it all. Some folks never learned to chill, thinking inactivity some how equates to laziness. But I know for a fact that God sees when we stop and notice what he has done or is doing or is about to do.
Two years ago I signed up for something new. Some ladies from the church and I, spent about two hours learning how to apply acrylic paint and use the proper bushes for the desired effect on a small canvas. I enjoyed it so much, when a fund raiser came up a year later, I went again. It ended with the same two results: another painting that will not hang in an art gallery and having a good time creating it.
Some may tremble at the very thought of getting out of the religious rut they have carved for their life to journey in, but the shame is there is so much more. The Hebrews evaluated what Jesus had to say and struggled with the new faith he spoke of because they were comfortable in the old ways. The writer of Hebrews begins by saying both Judaism and Christianity were revealed by God.
The end result was pointed out to them and to us that it is better if Christ is our focus for life. It's a good thing if you don't open your Bible because once you do, you know what God is doing and that you have an active part in it. At that point, you become responsible for what you have read. Jesus said to learn of me and once you do... you have wisdom and are expected to act upon it.
Did you ever think about what God said to Moses as he prepared him to go toe to toe with Pharaoh? “What is that in your hand?” Or to the woman who was going to allow her son and herself to die, “What do you have in your house?” Or to the fishermen, “Cast your nets.”
In every instance God was going to do something, but the other part is each person had to make available to him what they had and take an active part in whatever he was about to do. For Moses it was a staff that turned into a snake, to the woman in 2 Kings 4, it was oil for her provision, for the fisherman, it was nets so heavy they could not pull them in. For you... only you know what you have that God is asking to use so he can be glorified.
Does scripture win you to God's side with the illustrations of faithful men and women in Israel's history and do you find encouragement and boldness that makes you ask God what he can use that you have? Are you inspired to grasp what God is doing in your daily living to where you are trying new things?
We have as many excuses for not being adventurous with God's power behind us, as those we pull out to use now and again for not attending church. Do we really think we have an original reason that God hasn't heard as to why we are not more involved in Kingdom work?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” Romans 12:1-2.
If we are missing or having a problem seeing God moving in our community or in our life, maybe we aren't interested in doing our “reasonable service” and just want to hang out for the final event. The only problem with that is that we rob ourselves of observing God surprising us with his “new” and seeing what he can do with willing vessels.
You never know what you can do unless you try and you will never know how much more you can do if God is involved. The new thing begins when we sacrifice all our other loyalties in life and dare to go where we have never gone before... in the Lord.
I find it amazing that so many people are interested in who they are, where they come from and because they are curiosity driven, they happily send a spit ball off in the mail and lo and behold they are sent a list of relationships from distant lands and all at once they feel like they are somebody.
Do you ever feel like you're nobody? Perhaps you were adopted and wonder who your real parents are? Do you have a constant nagging that if you only knew, things would be better? Well, when the Supremes with Diana Ross belted out “Love Child” in 1968 they hit on one of the many reasons so many people don't really know who they are. Things happen. Relationships end. Abuse ends. People die. But for the surviving individuals, life must go on and what was, has to be put away.
In reality, it doesn't matter who your parents are or where you come from, it's what you do with yourself that matters. You may be poor or rich. You may be popular, daring, austere, simple, own a home, vacation in exotic places or thrive in seclusion. Knowing your origin may make you want to shout “My name is Kunta Kinte,” at the top of your lungs, but that only keeps you confined to this world. Your life in the flesh will come to an end no matter who you are.
Who are you really? While we may struggle to understand our earthy ties, God does not leave anything to our imagination as to who we are when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. If we were to get as excited by who we are in Him as we do with who we are in this life, we could live with the insecurity of not knowing anything more in the here and now. What most people are finding out is that they are a combination of many ethnic groups. That can either make people happy or send them into a tailspin.
Sometimes a Bible verse surprises me by making a bold statement. Such was the case not long ago when I read John 1:12-13 about who I am.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God,” NIV.
Everything changes when we come to Christ. All at once sin is forgiven. Redeemed. We're called. Delivered. We are healed and raised up with Christ. We are greatly loved by God. We are strengthened with all might. When we are submitted to God even the devil has to leave. The spirit of fear leaves and we are given a sound mind. All of this plus much more happens why, because Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). This is who God made us to be.
The world has always been about the business of retraining our minds to focus on the here and now and keep us away from discovering who we are as the children of God. How powerful are John's words that we aren't born of natural descent, someone deciding we will be or from the husbands natural desire to have his way with his wife.
Isn't it time we stop defining ourselves by external standards like how we look, where we come from, our relationships, how much money we have, or by even our own negative self image and get to know who we really are? Reading the truth of the Bible will help everyone discover who they are spiritually, no need to go find yourself anywhere. There are no hidden surprises.
In the hands of God you become as Isaiah 62:3 says, you become a crown of beauty, a royal diadem, precious in his eyes because you are his child. When we turn to Christ and center our minds on him, we hear him call us by name because the truth is, he is the only one who knows who we are and understands us completely. His love for us does not depend on where we come from either genetically or globally.
His love is so strong that even before we came to Jesus, he loved us. If you need assurance of how much he loves you, if you ask, he will tell you.
When is the last time you got all warm and fuzzy listening to how much you are loved? It will happen when you allow God to describe YOU, his child as you read it for yourself.