Christian politeness isn’t always the best policy.
A friend who works as the manager of an electrical retail shop grew up being taught that courtesy and good manners were always appropriate. In his job, this does not make for an easy life.
He frequently has to handle recipients of exceptional needs payments from the Irish social welfare system. The payments are provided to ensure that families have essential items for living; items regarded as essential may include ‘white goods’ such as a cooker, a washing machine or a refrigerator. It should be straightforward, the family have the necessary paperwork and go to the shop, which provides them with the necessary items.
A dispute had arisen at a cash desk. The assistant said that the person could not have what they wanted under the scheme. The customer was belligerent and my friend was called.
“I have a paper there from the social welfare to be buying things”.
“Yes, but the things it covers are white goods. It does not cover a satellite dish”.
“The man in the office said I could be getting a dish with it”.
“I don’t believe he said you could buy a satellite dish with social welfare money”.
“He did so. You ask him”.
“I do not believe that the man in the welfare office said that”.
“You phone the man in the office. You ask him what he said”.
Being polite, my friend took the papers and went to his office and phoned the welfare office.
“Did you say that this man could have a satellite dish?”
“I did no such thing”.
“He says you did.”
“I did not. He knows I did not”.
“What shall I tell him that the man in the office said?”
“Tell him the man in the office said **** off”
My friend returned to the cash desk. The customer stood defiantly waiting. “Well”, he said, “what did the man in the office tell you?”
“Well”, said my friend, “I phoned the office as you requested and I will tell you exactly what he told me to say to you . . .”
I do not think Christians should swear, such language being contrary to Scripture, but I do think that we could maybe be more assertive. Jesus never shies away from calling things as they are, including saying harsh things when necessary. There is a danger that we are so busy being meek that we forget we are also called to speak the truth.