“Civility” is a word that means “respect.” It’s not just respect for another person. It is respect as your posture. It defines you. It means you are polite with people. Respect is a cultural issue. If you have it, you caught it from someone. It is not an academic idea. It is or becomes part of your DNA. If you lose it, you are less human. If many people lose it, the society is less human. If that happens to a nation, the nation moves toward being uncivilized. The “civilians” are not as civilized as their creator intended.
A nation that becomes uncivilized will fall apart. Wealth can’t stop it. Military might cannot restore it. Technology cannot revive it. Politicians cannot save it.
In history, great Chinese dynasties flourished and then died. In Central America, the Mayans self-destructed. The Greeks ruled, then failed. The Ottoman Empire vanished. Rome fell. If a nation loses the basic element of civilian respect, it implodes.
Disrespect is not an incurable disease. Yet, it can reach epidemic proportions. Those with disrespectful behavior require transformational rehabilitation. Respect is an inside cultural makeover. It requires a major shift in momentum, which must occur, one person at a time.
The source of civility is spiritual. Of all creation, only humans have spiritual capacity. It is God’s design. It signals human responsibility. It reveals that humans have the capacity to know and follow their Creator. Humans also have the freedom to ignore God, to their peril.
The result of civility is character. Character is not assumed. It is built. It is nurtured. It is guided by an infusion of God’s love. Character produces the profile, personality, and power of respect.
The nature of civility is servanthood. Only through servanthood to the Creator can a nation become “one nation under God.” Only through submission to God can human beings pursue servanthood to fellow human beings. There can be no civility without the culture of servanthood.
The purpose of civility is preservation. There is no perpetuity of a nation without civility. Care for others is the foundation of a civil society. Respect is the foundation that perseveres and sustains a nation.
The motive of civility is love. Selfless love for God, for others, for country, is the engine that represents the heartbeat of a nation. It is selfless love that cleanses the lifeblood of a country. It cleanses the oxygen of the nation’s soul. It is the power of sustainable life.
The measure of civility is sacrifice. Civility without sacrifice is lifeless and powerless. Respect is build on the platform of sacrifice. There is no genuine civility without sacrifice. Sacrifice defines civility at its highest level.
The power of civility is forgiveness. Only humans demonstrate civility. Respect is a unique attribute of the human race. By nature, humans are sinful. They are forgiven by Jesus Christ. As forgiven, they are forgiving. Human beings could never attempt civility without forgiveness.
The authority of civility is submission. Respect originates, by definition, in submission. There is no truly genuine civility unless humans submit to God as the Author of life. The Author distributes divine love. Divine level love is unselfish love. Unselfish love is demonstrated as humans submit in respect to one another.
The privilege of civility is honor. Respect is an honor reserved for God’s highest creation: humans. Serving others is not a duty but an honor, even as Jesus served humans by giving His life. This privilege of respect is counter-intuitive to those who don’t know God. Honored respect is selfless privilege, not a duty.
The strength of civility is humility. Pride and civility are not companions. When forced, they have no strength. Jesus demonstrated the power of humility, which is nonsense for those without faith. It is a realty that signals that civility comes from God’s power within us, not our power to others. That truth sustains humility.
The foundation of civility is Jesus Christ. True respect is not another worldly attribute. It is a divine effort that comes from the Ruler of the universe. This platform is why civility can be sustainable. Jesus Christ rules in respect, for respect, by respect, for each person, toward every person.
Where you sow civility, you harvest harmony. Where you invest in harmony, you experience community. Where you build community, you enjoy progress. Progress is a sacred trust given by your Creator.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul writes, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshall and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way,” (Galatians 5:22-23, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006).