The Choice Between Kindness and Rudeness


“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)

Driving along the George Bush Freeway … listening to some soothing music … my destination a Doctor appointment.  Minding my own business when it happened … what many of us have experienced … road rage!

A large, oversized pickup with big wheels … chrome everywhere … came up right behind me so close I couldn’t even see the license plate.  He honked repeatedly … raised his hands at me … whipped around me … glared at me … and whipped back right in front of me so close I thought I might be in real trouble.

Why did that happen?  What had I done to create such an ugly display of emotion?  To my knowledge, I was just driving along … minding my own business … listening to some soothing music … and driving the speed limit by the way.  I am quite sure I said something to myself like, “Well, that was rude!”  Haven’t we all said that at one time or another!  Some say it a lot! Hmmm

I will be completely honest when I say that being on the receiving end of rudeness … well … it’s hard to take!  And … the very real temptation is to return in kind!  I don’t believe I am the only one who must raise their hand and say, “Guilty!”

Regardless of how we choose to frame it … returning in kind is not God’s way of doing things!

It would be most difficult to explore all of the many reasons and answers that could be offered up in explanation of these unkind and unchristian actions.  But consider with me some thoughts about what we can do about these things all around us.

I Corinthians 13 has been identified by Bible students as the “love chapter” of the Bible.  There is certainly a great amount of evidence to support this caption.

But we must understand where it fits in the context of the Book of First Corinthians.  The congregation at Corinth was having some serious issues among themselves that needed to be addressed by the Apostle Paul.  His inspired letter was intended to capture their attention and promote a reset of what was in their hearts. There was a marked absence of the love God desires … expects … and yes, even demands!

“Does not behave rudely” … the Greek phrase could literally be translated “does not act unbecomingly” or “does not act inappropriately.” Rather than causing problems, strife, even division, the “love” of this passage does not degrade, insult, and even hurt others. As the people of God the love we choose to obtain … and to reflect daily … involves choosing appropriate actions and responses that help other people; a deliberate choice of taking the high road of the Lord rather than the low road of the world.

Rudeness is finding more and more acceptance in today’s culture. Public behavior and words that were unthinkable and unacceptable only a generation or two ago are now commonplace. And sadly, many of God’s people not only tolerate this behavior, many are also practicing it like the world around them.

We live in what essayist Merrill Markoe in the Wall Street Journal calls a “renaissance of rudeness.” The fact is that rudeness,  along with all other sin,  finds its roots in selfishness. The “me-generation” … the “it’s all about me attitude” is here … and it is contributing to unimaginable consequences.

“Rudeness is airborne, a hidden yawn, passed from person to person until it stretches around the world.” –anonymous

As God’s people, when we are asked what we believe and are asked to defend the faith we hold on to so dearly, even then, we are to do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).  The Apostle Peter was encouraging these early Christians living in extremely difficult times to share the message of the Gospel with love and courtesy!

As God’s people, we are enjoined by the Apostle Paul to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15, ESV).  In other words, it is our choice to follow the perfect example of Jesus Christ when He walked on this earth … or … act just like the world around us!

Road rage … unkind words … despicable actions toward others … just general meanness … are indicative of the dark and evil part of our world. The lack of respect for authority at all levels of society is heading this world to depths and places only imagined in the past!

Two thoughts:

  • People you know and love … people you have never met … they are all looking for peace, joy, and meaning to their lives. They just don’t know where to find it.  Those of us who “have tasted that the Lord is good/gracious” (1Peter 2:3, ESV, NKJV) … we know and it is our responsibility to share the “good news!”
  • The Old Testament character by the name of Job ultimately found the peace we all desire. Listen to his words, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10, NKJV)

Let the niceness of “walking in the light” be contagious, replacing rudeness!   The choice is ours.

Bill Fairchild, Jr.

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