It was just the other month when the story broke of an 86-year-old grandmother who typed into Google the following search: “please translate these roman numerals mcmxcviii thank you”. Apparently she believed that a real person at Google HQ would answer her query and that using please and thank you would assist the process. A day or two later I came across another story concerning a rather more serious situation where the use of please and thank you proved crucial, if not critical. It concerned a couple of British plant hunters who had ventured into the Colombian rainforest only to be taken hostage by a group of violent guerrillas. They were then kept in daily fear for 10 months, often being told they would die, and being fed on a diet of monkey and armadillo!
When interviewed after their release one of them said: “Obviously in hindsight we were scared, I should be dead, … We said lots of “please’s” and “thank you’s”. Now we could view courtesy as something rather old fashioned, nothing much more than a fading mark of traditionalism. However, these simple words may have a deeper reach than we might initially think. You see they tend to betray our baseline inward attitudes of both humility and thankfulness. You could go further, for there is a sense in which these two words must prefix and suffix every real profession of Christian faith. What do I mean? Well, it always requires humility to come to Christ Jesus in the first place. And, the inevitable demonstration of having truly met with the Saviour of souls will be that of thankfulness.
What’s probably over the top for Google, and undoubtedly wise for facing guerrillas, is certainly more than a little telling when it comes to any heart level approach to our Saviour and God.