Lewis Copeland tells the story of a mother who boasted about the good manners of her little darling at a dinner party.
"Charlie, my dear, won't you have some beans?" she said.
"No," was the ill-mannered reply from the so-called cherub.
"No!" exclaimed the astonished mother. "No what?"
"No beans," said the child.
You won't hear "no" without a "thank you" from Gunter, age 7, because he says: "The only time you have to be polite is at the table. It will make the day better."
Gunter, the dinner table is a great place to start, but you'll find courtesy is useful in many areas of life.
Courtesy is important because "you might hurt someone's feelings," says Sarah, 8. "You might get told on. You might get a spanking if you live in my house."
A.C., 9, sounds as if he may have been to Sarah's house: "Courtesy is important so we don't get out of control."
"If you're not polite, you won't have any friends," says Hicks, 11. Without consideration for others, "people will think you're gross" or that "you look like a slob," say Jason, 10, and Taylor, 12.
Courtesy will make your relationships better, says Kelsey, 9: "That is how people will start liking you. Being kind and loving to people is how you really make your friends."
One of the best reasons to be always courteous is "because of the Golden Rule," says Meredith, 11: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
The rule itself "represents much more than a common-sense or self-centered motivation for conduct," says Bible scholar Robert Guelich. "The primary focus of this saying is on doing for others rather than on what one will have done in return."
When Jesus taught the golden rule, it was in the context of an active relationship with his Father (Matthew 7:12). As people experience the healing and wholeness of God's proactive love, they become channels of blessing to their relatives, friends and even enemies.
"I think courtesy is important because God is very courteous," says Hannah, 10.
"God is love, and love is courteous," adds Tait, 8. Yes, Tait, the love of God is the basis for courtesy. As a wise man once said, courtesy is "love in small things."
"Love does not behave rudely," the Apostle Paul wrote in his beautiful ode to godly love in I Corinthians 13. How many marriages end in divorce because couples fail to show simple courtesy to each other? Have you ever thought of putting the cap on the toothpaste as an act of love?
In this same ode, the Apostle Paul mentioned patience or long-suffering as another love trait. Rudeness often starts with impatience, which can escalate into fatal actions. How many car wrecks are caused by impatience and rudeness?
Brantley, 10, cites the ultimate act of patience and love as her motivation for being courteous: "God is so gracious that he sent his son to die for us, so that we can go to heaven. I want to be as gracious and as courteous as him. He loves us and is gracious to us every day, but sometimes we don't realize it."
Think about this: Love is polite. Memorize this truth: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil" (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Ask this question: Do you think of others before you think of yourself?
Listen to a talking book, download the "Kids Color Me Bible" for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the "Mission Explorers Streaming Video" at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.