The Underestimated Risk of Rudeness in Our Ranks

I used to think there was one useless verse in the Bible.

It comes in the middle of this well-loved passage:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

This passage says such big things about love, why does it worry itself with small issues like rudeness and irritability, I thought. Surely, these are petty things. Why would the Almighty God stoop to concern Himself with rudeness?

I used to think those portions of the passage were useless, but that’s because there was a time when people treated one another with civility and manners. When manners were employed wholesale, I didn’t appreciate them. Now that they’re passé, I understand God’s interest in highlighting the destructive nature of rudeness.

A person expects hard times, sickness, wars, and economic stresses. A person expects disappointments, loss, and failures. Something inside pushes one to rise to these occasions.

But when we’re eyeball-to-eyeball with another human and receive unwarranted rudeness or unearned irritability, something about that grinds down a person’s soul, erodes the heart like a steady faucet drip, and breaks the spirit like the silent treatment, or the unanswered call.

I’ve seen men who survived prison snap because a receptionist was rude.

I’ve endured sucker punching betrayals with grace, only to plunge into depression at a loved one’s irritable response to an innocent question.

God knows us.

He knows that some of us are wounded by the big guns, while others are done in by the stumble off the curb.

We can be heroic on the high seas, only to slip and fall in the bathtub.

That’s why love (godly love) is not rude or irritable. That’s why it matters that we check our tongues, our expressions, and our rolling eyes, in the small moments, as well the large.

That’s why we do not truly love until our love is civil, respectful, and good-natured. These are not niceties of a by-gone day, these are the hallmarks of all who respond to the call to love like Christ.

Be careful not to gloss over the passages on love, thinking this is a lesson you passed in an earlier grade. Love is a subject we revisit until we graduate into His arms.

3 thoughts on “The Underestimated Risk of Rudeness in Our Ranks

  1. Patricia

    I remember watching a movie as a child and paying particular attention to a military training scene. Men were gathered in a classroom studying images of war planes so that they would recognize the enemy from the ally especially when they were under great duress. We all need to be reminded what the weapons of our enemy look like lest we forget during our days of great duress. Thank you for reminding.

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  2. Carole Sparks

    I’m been struggling with people being less-than-polite to me because it’s difficult not to respond with rudeness! Thank you for this reminder that it’s up to me to show love regardless of what the other person is doing/saying. It goes back to earlier in the chapter, where we learn that love is patient and kind.

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