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I love to be around decent people. Being around decent people makes me feel liked, happy, and valued. When I am around decent folks, I feel like they are genuinely interested in my life and in what I think. And, who doesn’t like compliments, honest praise, encouragements or even a kind smile? Being decent at work allows for a better working environment. Being decent at home creates a happy home habitat. Being decent in any situation builds goodwill among people. We talk about having a decent standard of living, a decent home, a decent pizza, a decent block party, a decent workshop, and decent hardware for a hover board, but we don’t talk enough about being a decent human being. In fact, I cannot recall ever hearing a sermon on decency. Decency isn’t even a word found in the Bible, but its attributes are absolutely scattered and intermingled throughout the entire Word of God. Yes, decency matters.
Vocabulary.com suggests that . . .
Over time, decency has referred to manners, but today decency is mainly a strong sense of right and wrong, and a high standard of honesty. When a criminal or dictator does horrible things, people assume they have no sense of decency. When a tasteless or violent TV show becomes popular, some people wonder if society has lost its sense of decency.¹
If I had to choose between having good manners, being honest, possessing modesty, being civil, being courteous, being respectable, having dignity, and having a righteous virtue or not, I would choose the former. But, there are people who choose to be immodest, immoral, obscene, rude, and use obscenities. I wonder often why some people crave decency and others don’t.
I’ve been watching a lot of the 2015-2016 presidential debates and I haven’t seen a lot of decency going on between the candidates. DECENCY does matter because decency affects how a person acts, talks, thinks, makes decisions, and relates to people. I am convinced that a leader should be a decent person.
However, it isn’t easy to be decent. We struggle with being decent and sometimes we fail. We get mad at the man at the car wash that doesn’t get our car clean enough; we rip off an angry email to a co-worker because they criticize us. Our sense of worth tries to protect ourselves, and often we act in ways that are very unbecoming.
I went to Baylor University as a non-Baptist. The Bible was a mysterious book to me. It was a sacred book; thus I rarely held it, let alone knew how to use it other than the occasional times I randomly opened one up and pointed to some words. As fate would have it, I found myself in a required New Testament religion class with a failing grade 2/3 of the way through the course. I made an appointment with my professor. I told him I didn’t know what they were talking about in class most of the time; I didn’t understand how most people around me could easily contribute to class discussions; and I didn’t even know the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, let alone what it meant when he put words with a colon and numbers on the board, i.e. John 3:16. He graciously asked me if I owned a Bible. I said, “No.” He mentioned that I should have a Bible to go along with the text book. I immediately told him that if that was the case, why didn’t the book store have a Bible listed as a required text book for the class? Without criticism or judgment, this kind professor took time out of his busy schedule to explain the basics of the Bible. He even shared with me the questions that were going to be on the next exam along with the answers. I left his office uplifted that he cared enough to listen and understand my predicament. But, more than that, I left knowing I was just in the presence of a decent man.
There are decent believers and there are decent non-believers. My husband and I were on vacation in Istanbul, Turkey last year. We were on a very crowded bus where people were jam packed. An elderly lady all hunched over wearing her black hijab got on the bus. My husband nodded at this woman to take his seat when he stood up. She did. She never said thank you – In her culture, woman are not allowed to talk to men or even look them in the eye. But, when her bus stop came and she was starting to exit, she turned to me and gave me a smile that said, “Thank you for your husband’s kindness.” Here decency begat decency. Anyone can be a decent person, and I am grateful for that. However, it is easier when you are helped by the Spirit of the Living God.
When we think of decent people today, many of the same characteristics Jesus possessed are embedded in the “decent” people we know, admire, and respect today.
12 Characteristics of a Decent Person
- Courageous: Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, Joshua 23:6
- Generous: It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. Psalms 112:5
- Good Reputation: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1
- Humble: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord. Zephaniah 2:3
- Integrity: Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. Proverbs 19:1
- Kind: The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Acts 28:2
- Loving: You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18
- Modest: Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9
- Patient: Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. James 5:7
- Respectful: Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:7
- Responsible: For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:5
- Honest: Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. Proverbs 12:17
Jesus possessed many of the characteristics above when He lived on this earth. He embraced purity, compassion, kindness, service, and humility. He was a man who resisted temptation, loved men, and persevered in pursuing and following God’s will for his life. These same type of characteristics are seen in men and women with character. But, in today’s world, we see rudeness, sinful behavior, egotism, and confusion. It is a sad commentary on the character of people.
How to Become a Decent Person
- Trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior through the forgiveness of sins and believe the Holy Spirit will help you.
- Read your Bible daily and follow the mandates and standards set by God.
- Pray for the courage to follow God’s leading.
- Ask the Lord to show you areas in your life that need to be changed.
- Pray for wisdom as to how to achieve these changes.
- Strive to develop the character of God in every area of your life.
- Rally around decent people. They will make us better people and we can learn from them.
- Draw near to God with a true heart with full assurance of faith within our hearts…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:22-24
But, as we go about our lives, no matter what our religious persuasion, let’s try to follow the words of John Wesley.
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.²
This week, spend some time thinking about how you would like to be regarded 25/15 years from now. Take a look down the road to your future persona. Imagine how you will act; how you will relate to others; how you will behave; and how you hope to have ministered in the Lord’s name. Then, strive to become that person. As you immerse yourself in His Word and prayer, the Lord will not conceal His will from you. He has a plan for your life and as you become a more decent person with His help, your life will become more enriched and others will notice that you have become the “decent God-fearing” person you desire to be.
Yes, Decency matters.
If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:3-4
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Dear Heavenly Father, I see so much evil and violence and unchristian behavior as I go about my daily life. I see so much evil, violence, and unchristian behavior in this society. There is indecency in the workplace, on television, and throughout the Internet. Lord, keep me safe so as I will not be swept into an ungodly lifestyle. Remind me continually that you want me to live a decent life. When I read your Holy Bible, show me how my character can be changed to be more like you. Let the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ dwell within me and let my fruits be used as I treat others with decency. Allow me to aspire to a life of decency Lord for I know that being a decent person is what you want for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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¹ Vocabulary.com. 29 Feb 2016.
² Wesley, John. Goodreads. 29 Feb 2016. www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/christian-living.