As a child, I participated in the Calvinist Cadet Corps, my church denomination’s variant on the Boy Scouts. At each monthly meeting, we would gather in our gray uniforms (heavy-laden with merit badges) and recite the Cadet motto:
A Cadet must be reverent, obedient, compassionate, consecrated, trustworthy, pure, grateful, loyal, industrious, and cheerful.
Most of those are fairly straightforward spiritual virtues. But the last word always struck me as slightly out of place: is cheerfulness really a Christian virtue in the same sense as compassion and obedience?
That question sprang to mind today as I read a Charles Swindoll devotional explaining the importance of cordiality. The outward grace and politeness (or lack thereof) with which we treat others is a strong indicator of the state of our heart:
Being cordial literally starts from the heart, as I see it. It begins with the deep-seated belief that the other person is important, genuinely significant, deserving of my undivided attention, my unrivaled interest, if only for a few seconds. Encouraged by such a belief, I am prompted to be sensitive to that person’s feelings. If he is uneasy and self-conscious, cordiality alerts me to put him at ease. lf she is shy, cordiality provides a relief. If he is bored, cordiality stimulates and invigorates him. If she is sad, cordiality brings cheer. What a needed and necessary virtue it is!
What does cordiality look like in a Christian’s life? Swindoll lists out four simple ways we can communicate our love, care, and respect for others in day-to-day interactions.
Are you a cordial person? Have you ever considered that even your most minor everyday interactions with others can reflect the state of your heart? Consider applying these simple practices of cordiality in your conversations at work and home this week.