Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gentling Influences Part 2 --Refinement of Manner

(Yes, I know it's been months since I wrote part 1.)

Ladies have a profound influence upon those around them, not only through how they look, (which was addressed in part 1) but also in their manners.

In our day and age, society does not emphasize refinement of manners as something to be desired in a young lady. A young lady's manners say much more about her character than one might think. Several character traits displayed by those with "refined manners" are kindness, unselfishness, integrity , and discretion, just to name a few.

Kindness: "And be ye kind to one another..." (Eph. 4:32) Most of what defines good manners is kindness. It is polite to hold the door for an elderly person, or to give up one's seat to another, or to be thoughtful in what we say, because it is kind. A kind young lady will naturally have good manners, whether or not she has been trained in them.

Unselfishness: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21) Unselfishness is the bloom atop the stem of kindness. It prompts one to put the needs and wishes of others before his own. Without an unselfishness of heart, good manners will breed bitterness and a rebellious spirit. To focus on one's self, complaining inwardly every time an inconvenience arises for the cause of good manners, is to be forever annoyed, for there will always be times when one does not get his own way. An unselfish young lady thinks first of others, and even when it is inconvenient, puts others first with a cheerful smile.

Integrity: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20) Integrity is doing what is right regardless of circumstances. No matter who is watching or not watching, or what others think about you, right is right. True character is not defined by what others think. One should always endeavor to consistently do the right thing. Without integrity, good manners are superficial and insincere. A young lady of integrity will not hesitate to return the excess when she is given too much change. She will unflinchingly keep her word, though it cause her great inconvenience or personal cost. She will do her chores without being asked, and will not wait, hoping her mother will forget to remind her.

Discretion: "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion." (Prov. 11:22) Discretion is being careful to be appropriate in word and action. Just as a jewel of gold cannot hide the disgusting smell of a pig, outward beauty cannot disguise the "stench" of a foolish heart. One without discretion will not think of others before they speak, but will tell the secrets of others to anyone and everyone. They will gossip and be unkind and unjust in their words. They will not know when to be silent, or when a laugh is inappropriate. Discretion adds refinement to even the plainest manners. A young lady with discretion will be counted trustworthy as a good friend and confidant. She will weigh her words, that she might not hurt or embarrass another by her speech. She will not make rude jokes or comments, but endeavor to be appropriate in her words and actions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and hearts and chocolates have been appearing all around us since January. For those of us without a "Valentine", this particular holiday can be awkward, depressing, and just plain boring. Yet over the past few years, God has used this season of "singleness awareness day", as my brother calls it, to cause me to pause and contemplate His love for me.

The first year He sent me sweet little piano students with homemade cards and candy. The next year it was flowers --snowdrops, to be exact-- along my walk to and from work. Last year, it was violets. We had just moved, and I was delighted to find three colors of my favorite flowers growing in my yard, just in time for Valentine's Day!

This year, there are violets, and there may be snowdrops, and perhaps even piano students with homemade cards, but the greatest blessing God has given me this year as Valentine's Day approaches has been by way of a song He caused me to be working on.

I played it last Sunday as an offertory, and in the process of arranging and practicing it, I memorized the words so that I could better express them through my playing. Thinking upon the words of this hymn has given me such joy by reminding me of the greatest blessing God has given --not to me alone, but to anyone and everyone who will accept it: Salvation.

It was love that prompted Christ to leave His glory and be born in a stable, to grow up in a poor family, to minister to those who would reject and eventually crucify Him, to endure the agonizing pain of the cross, and to die, paying the penalty for our sin. It was love beyond anything mere mortal man has ever known. --And it was love for you and for me.

This Hymn, called The Love of God has been such a blessing to me, I decided to post the words. Perhaps it will be a blessing to you, as well.

The Love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God's love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam's race
--The saints' and angels' song.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.
O Love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure,
The saints' and angels' song.
Have a blessed Valentine's Day everyone! : )