Love is Not Rude

Title: Love is Not Rude

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Time: March 4th, 2007

Today we continue in the sermon series on love from 1 Corinthians 13; we come to the fifth verse, which begins, “Love is not rude.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us what love is and what love isn’t. Today, again, we are learning what love isn’t; it isn’t rude. Does everyone know what it means to be rude? I’m sure we all have encountered rudeness at some point, maybe even recently. Can anyone give me a definition of rude? Here’s how Webster’s Dictionary defines rude: “offensive in manner or action, discourteous, coarse, vulgar, lacking in social refinement.” Now today we are going to learn about something that love is not, love is not rude. Sometimes in order to understand something we have to learn what it is not. Paul uses the ancient technique of comparing and contrasting in order to help us understand what love is all about. In the first few verse of the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 he gives us some characteristics of what love is and also some characteristics of what love is not. In this way he makes sure we really understand. But for us, it’s not just a matter of wanting to understand, we want to actually be more loving in the New Year 2007, not just understand love better. Are you more conscious of being more loving since we’ve started learning about love at the turn of the New Year 2007? I hope that you are not just studying these things as you would a class in school, but that you are really applying these things in your life during the week. I know I’ve been more conscious of how I speak and act since these teachings began because I honestly want to be more a more loving person starting this year. Now some of you, like all of us, are good in some of these love characteristics but lacking in some others of the love characteristics. What we want to accomplish during these weeks in 1 Corinthians 13 is to improve in those areas where we are weak and maintain strength in areas where we are strong when it comes to being a loving person. The goal of course is to become like Jesus who was able to live a perfect life of love. We won’t ever get to the level of Jesus but we should strive to improve every day. Our failures should drive us to prayer to ask for God’s help in living out these truths. What’s good about studying 1 Corinthians 13 is that these truths about love are put before our eyes, we call them to our attention so that we don’t neglect them, we put them up as standards or ideals to live up to; even if we can’t live up to them perfectly, at least we know what to aim for in life. I hope you’ve decided this New Year of 2007 to take love seriously in your life. It’s something that is at the heart and center of what God wants to teach us in the Bible, and especially in the life of Jesus. We can’t claim to be a Christian without wanting to love like Jesus loved. So let’s continue in 1 Corinthians 13: 5, “Love is not rude.” Let’s look at three things about rudeness.

First, Love is not carelessly rude. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not rude.” It is probably true that most people are rude because they are careless. Careless concerning what? Careless concerning other people. We all have our own lives to live and so we get careless at times concerning other people’s lives because we are so rapped up in living our own. It’s not that most people intentionally aim to be rude when they are rude; it’s just that they aren’t being sensitive enough towards other people in their pursuit to get what they want in life. Isn’t that true? It’s funny, because this week as I was thinking about giving this message on rudeness, I guess I was a little more sensitive about the subject because of preparing to speak on it, because I noticed rudeness a little more than ordinary. For example, I took some pop cans back to the grocery store this past week and emptied them into the cans and plastic slots in the machines, I got the receipt and then went through the check out line to get the money. Well, while waiting behind someone I had these pop can receipts, so I put them down on the conveyer belt while waiting so that the check out woman could take them and process them. Well, that was the wrong thing to do I guess because the lady behind the counter said very rudely, “Don’t put those receipts down on that, they could get caught under the conveyer belt, so take them up!” She was pretty hostile about me putting those receipts down on the black conveyer belt. Maybe she’s had bad experiences with receipts being caught in the belt, or something, but I didn’t know any of this. All I knew was that I’m waiting to cash out my pop can receipts and I get chewed out. I didn’t appreciate that, but I didn’t say anything. I picked up the receipts and held on to them until she took them off my hand. But the point is that she was rude to me a customer when she didn’t have to be rude. She could have kindly explained it to me, or better yet, she could have picked them up off the belt and put them in a place where she could count them out. But she didn’t have to get rude. I felt like saying, “Hey, how about treating the customers with a little more courtesy?” But I didn’t. Now I don’t think she set out to be rude. I think she just wasn’t sensitive enough to the customer (me) in explaining something that she knew about which I didn’t. That’s how we are, when we are rude, we just aren’t sensitive enough to other people. We don’t even know we are being rude. We are carelessly rude. Sometimes at the end of a long day I’ll reflect back on the things I’ve said and done and I have to confess to God and repent for things I’ve said and done. Sometimes I have to confess and repent of rudeness. I think we all do, or we all should. Let’s pray that God gives us more sensitivity towards others so that we don’t fall into the sin of being carelessly rude.

Second, Love is not intentionally rude. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not rude.” That’s how the New International Version puts it, but here’s how some other Bible version translate this passage. The King James says, “Doth not behave unseemly.” Today’s English Version says, “Love is not ill-mannered.” Phillips Version says, “Love has good manners.” So we get the picture. Now the first kind of rudeness is unintentional, but there is a second kind of rudeness that is intentional, and this is an even worse kind of rudeness. The first kind of rudeness comes from not being sensitive enough concerning the feelings of others, but the second kind of rudeness desires to hurt other people. Now how does this kind of rudeness most often come about? It comes about when one person feels that someone or something has hurt them, so they think they are justified in hurting others. And there are a lot of people in society today that feel since they have been hurt by others, then they are entitled to hurt others. Now we are all tempted to pay back evil for evil, but love resists that urge and forgives. Have you ever been intentionally rude to someone? I think we all have, usually after we’ve been hurt ourselves. Some people have been so badly hurt in life that they have developed a really bad attitude about people, so that they treat people rudely. You may be someone who just happens to get in their way and you’ll be treated rudely. Or, you may have been hurt by someone or something, so you take it out on someone else and treat them rudely intentionally. We all need to be careful not to speak or act out in anger or bitterness towards other people. When we lash out in anger we use rudeness as a weapon to communicate how we feel. Some people are angry at the world, others are angry at classes of people, still others at specific persons. But all of these are things we need to deal with on our own and with God out of public in order to resolve these issues. Sometimes we need to go and see a counselor in order to work through specific anger issues. Other times we just need to talk them out with a friend or family member. Always we should be praying about anger in our lives so that we aren’t projecting our own inner negative emotions on others. We may need to confess and repent of our anger or even rage, to forgive the people who hurt us, and to ask God to forgive and heal our angry hearts. Then, once we have dealt with our own issues of anger, we won’t have to take anger out on others by being intentionally rude to them. A woman who recently divorced may be intentionally rude towards men. A man who gets laid off from work may be deliberately rude towards everyone who has a job. Someone who is racist might be rude to all members of a certain race, etc. But these are all issues that must be dealt with behind the scenes in order to eliminate intentional rudeness. Are you intentionally rude towards anyone? We need to work these things out because love is not rude – especially — love is not intentionally rude.

Third, Love is not rude, but there are exceptions. 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not rude.” The Apostle Paul is teaching us a general characteristic of love, but he’s not saying that there are no exceptions, because there are exceptions. First, not everyone’s standard of what is polite and what is rude is the same. For example, it used to be that young women in certain social classes attended finishing school to learn proper manners and etiquette and politeness. I’m sure graduates of these finishing schools would have very high standards of mannerly behavior, and that they would consider anything that did not meet these high standards of politeness rude. But the Apostle isn’t teaching us the highest standards of politeness, he’s teaching us general standards. He’s teaching us to be sensitive to the feelings of others, but he doesn’t lay down any specific rules. He isn’t writing a Miss Manners column in the Bible. Besides, different cultures have different standards. You probably already know this, but in certain cultures, it’s polite to burp loudly to show you enjoyed the meal; if you didn’t burp loudly the host might be offended. But in our culture, if you burped loudly, that would be impolite. So the time, place, situation, and context determine what is and what isn’t rude. And then there are, of course, exceptions to the normal, general truths Paul is teaching here about love, politeness, and rudeness. For example, in emergency situations it is acceptable to be what would normally be rude. In emergencies, the police or firefighter might shout at someone roughly to move or get out of the way. In normal conversation that would be rude. Another exception would be tough love situations. Does everyone know what “tough love” is? It’s when I get tough with you not because I hate you but because I love you. For example, when parents discipline their children, that’s tough love. It’s not normally polite to hit a child while speaking harshly to them, but it’s acceptable in disciplining them. Or when someone confronts their spouse for drinking too much and calls them a drunk. That’s not normally polite language, but maybe that’s the only way to confront the situation. The prophets in the Bible often spoke in harsh language to confront and condemn people’s sins; were they rude? Yes, but it’s acceptable, it’s ok, because of the context of their calling. Even Jesus, the epitome of love, you might say, acted rude towards the Pharisees and religious leaders, but it was justified because he did it out of tough love. What this shows is that there are exceptions to the general characteristic of love not being rude. Now what we should not do is try to justify all of our rudeness by exceptions. But we should be aware that there are exceptions and exceptional circumstances that justify them. Our assignment from the Lord is to be loving people, and being rude is incompatible with that most of the time. We need to review our lives, confess and repent of rudeness, and pray to God for the ability to love better. We won’t ever get it 100% right, but we must keep trying.

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