Be PoliteDecember 21, 2019
Let all things be done decently and in order.
— 1 Corinthians 14:40
My precious daddy was a fanatic when it came to order and cleanliness. He couldn’t bear the thought of wrapping paper scattered around the house on Christmas Day after all the gifts had been opened. So on the day before Christmas each year, he would start organizing a way to quickly collect paper wrapping, ribbons, and other trash so that it wouldn’t lie strewn around the living room on Christmas Day.
Sure enough, my dad’s plan always worked. When Christmas Day came, the wrapping paper and ribbons were collected just as quickly as they were removed from the gifts. There was never any evidence that there had been a mess in our living room. Instead of waiting till the last present was unwrapped, Dad made sure that room remained as clean as it was when we began opening gifts.
My father was committed when it came to cleanliness and order every day of the year! Our yard was always mowed on time, and the curbs, driveway, and sidewalks were perfectly edged. The flowerbeds looked orderly, and our bushes were always neatly trimmed. Because we had a dog, it was my daily duty to walk the yard to look for dog excrement and remove it. So with my hand-shovel and garbage sack, I’d walk back and forth across the back yard to make sure it was spotless before Dad’s truck pulled into the driveway at 5:00 p.m. each weekday. As soon as my dad stepped out of his vehicle, the first thing he’d do was walk through the yard to see if I had done my job and to see how well I’d done it.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
That’s just the way it was at our house — inside and out. And it was good because it taught me so much about staying on top of situations before they spun out of control. It’s usually better to be ahead of a problem than to have a pile of various “messes” to clean up later on.
This reminds me of a Bible verse about doing things “decently and in order.” It’s not a Christmas verse, but it has application to every area of life every day of the year. It is First Corinthians 14:40, which says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” This verse is actually talking about the right and wrong way to conduct a worship service, but it contains a principle that I wish to expound on in today’s Sparkling Gem.
The word “decently” is from the Greek word euschemonos. Besides this verse, the word euschemonos is found only two other times in the New Testament — in Romans 13:13 and First Thessalonians 4:12. In both of these places, it is translated to do something honestly or to walk honestly. It carries the notion of something that is done properly as opposed to improperly.
The word “order” is the Greek word taksis. It carries the idea of something done in a fitting way or something done according to order. The Jewish historian Josephus used the word taksis when he recorded the orderly way in which the Roman army erected their camps — indicating their camps were orderly, organized, and well-planned. The commanders didn’t engage in last-minute planning. Their camps were not hastily thrown together. Rather, they were set up in an organized and thoughtful manner.
Josephus also used the word taksis to describe the way the Essene Jews behaved so respectfully of others. These Jews would wait until others were finished speaking before they’d take their turn and speak out. In Josephus’ depiction of this behavior among the Essenes, he used the word taksis to portray people who were respectful, deferential, courteous, accommodating, well-mannered, and polite.
Do you see how this verse could be applied to many situations in life? It could be interpreted, “Let everything be done in a fitting and proper manner that is organized, well-planned, respectful, well-mannered, and polite.”
My father regularly quoted this verse — usually out of context — but it ensured that things were done “decently and in order” in our house. Our home, and any event held in our home, was orderly, organized, and well-planned. We didn’t know anything about last-minute planning. Rather, things were done in an organized and thoughtful manner because our father believed it showed respect, courtesy, and politeness to everyone present.
I’m so thankful that this lesson was passed from my Grandfather Renner to my father and then to me and to my sons. Now I even see our grandchildren carrying on the same “decently and in order” tradition. Even now, before even the second gift is opened on Christmas Day, the trash remaining from the first gift has already been picked up and discarded. We have fun in a trash-free, orderly environment!
Whether on Christmas Day or any day, when things get out of control, it leaves room for confusion and often anger later on when others don’t join in the task of cleaning up. If you’ve never tried it, why not institute the “decent and in order” approach! Have some fun in a trashfree, orderly environment. It will make your day so much more enjoyable when you don’t have strife over who is going to clean up a mess!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I accept the challenge to keep things decent and in order as we celebrate and have fun together. There’s no reason to let piles of trash build up and make it really hard for someone to clean up later in the day. Show me every opportunity to demonstrate kindness and consideration and to help my family do likewise so that no one gets their feelings hurt because they feel left alone in the task of bringing order back to the house. Lord, help me to set the standard, and to set the rules. And help us do things in a way that makes it a joyful day for everyone involved!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am going to lead my family in keeping things decent and in order this Christmas season. Rather than let the house go and allow stacks of trash and piles of messes to build up that could later cause strife, I will rid my house of the problem before it ever gets started. I’ll set the example and ask others to help me keep the house looking nice before it descends into a mess that looks horrible. This sounds simple, and it IS simple. With God’s help, this year we’re going to keep things looking decent and orderly around our house!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What has been your Christmas experience in years past? Has the devil used trash to create strife and turmoil at the end of a wonderful holiday event?
- Why not simply make the announcement that this year you’re going to be doing things differently to keep things clean and orderly as the day goes by? Have everyone par Put plastic trash sacks around the room, and inform everyone that as soon as a gift is opened, the wrapping, ribbons, and filler are to be put into the trash bag before the next gift can be opened. It will bring such order to your day!
- You have most likely experienced the difference between a chaotic, disorderly environment and one in which a sense of order and peace pervades. How would you describe the different ways both types of environments affect you?