Love Is Not Rude

I enjoy political debate, but I rarely watch political forums on television. Most of them make my blood boil. Why? Because instead of rational discussion, most of them feature people interrupting each other, shouting each other down, and conducting themselves with manners that wouldn’t be tolerated in a kindergarten classroom.

Sometimes I think common civility has gone the way of the dinosaur. It seems as though folks are increasingly rude and insensitive to one another. You can hardly go to a restaurant, a grocery store, or a little league ball game without seeing or hearing people treat each other with disrespect.

The apostle Paul says that love “does not behave rudely” (1 Corinthians 13:5). His word comes from a term that denotes being shapeless or deformed; as a figure of speech it meant “not presentable, unseemly.” Love, because it seeks the good of others, is concerned with respectable behavior and common courtesy. It doesn’t “put on airs,” but it does try never to be inconsiderate or offensive.

Rudeness in effect says, “I don’t love you because I don’t care how my conduct affects you.” It comes in many forms: crude comments or actions that embarrass; slurs and insults that hurt; treatment of others that disregards their feelings or convictions. Even much of what passes for humor these days falls in this category.

And rudeness isn’t just the world’s problem; disciples struggle with it, too. If I am contemptuous or unkind toward those who disagree with me, it is not love. If I disrupt worship and distract others (by talking, passing notes, trimming fingernails, etc.) instead of participating in it and building them up, it is not love.

Love extends to others every basic kindness and consideration. It moves us to treat them as we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).