Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9)
The good old King James Version renders 1 Peter 3:8 as: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous”. Be courteous.
It is fair to say that courtesy is not widespread in the public realm, or at least it is not much present on social media (which at times is far more anti-social). Rhetoric is rarely under-heated and outrage is always close to the surface. Now, the internet is not real life but it does seem that common courtesy is less common than was once the case.
Courtesy is a child of grace, and as Christians we have received extraordinary grace from God. As we receive, so we give. As one much forgiven we forgive much. As one on whom Christ had compassion, we are compassionate to others. As we follow a much mocked and insulted Christ, we endure those insults in good humour. The seventeenth century was a period of great religious persecution and controversy, yet Watson seeks a more courteous path:
The spirit of the gospel is full of meekness and politeness. "Be courteous" (1 Pet. 3:8). Take heed of a morose, or haughty behaviour. Religion does not take away civility— but refines it. “Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the children of Heth” (Gen. 23:7). Though they were of a heathenish race—yet Abraham gave them a civil respect. Paul was of an affable temper. “I am made all things to men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). In lesser matters the apostle yielded to others—that by his winning manner, he might win upon them.