Question: "What does it mean that love is not rude (1 Corinthians 13:5)?"
Answer: The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 includes a list of what love is not. We read that love “is not rude” in verse 5. Love, then, has good manners.
The Greek phrase could literally be translated “does not act unbecomingly” or “does not act inappropriately.” Christian love does not seek to cause problems, and it does not belittle others. Christian love involves choosing appropriate actions and responses that help other people.
Rudeness is finding more and more acceptance in today’s culture. Public behavior and words that were unthinkable a generation ago are now commonplace. We live in what essayist Merrill Markoe in the Wall Street Journal calls a “renaissance of rudeness.” The fact is that rudeness is rooted in selfishness. Manners are meant to reduce the friction of human interaction; discourtesy reveals a lack of consideration for others. The ill-mannered person is communicating that “it’s all about me.” Love, by contrast, cannot be selfish, for the simple reason that love is concerned for the other person’s well-being. Therefore, love is mannerly.
When Christians give testimony to what they believe and defend the faith, they are to do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). In other words, we are to witness in a loving, courteous way. This is not to say that Christians should never speak negatively regarding the actions of others. The gospel message condemns sin and calls sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus (Acts 17:30). However, there is a right way and wrong way to do anything, and speaking against sin need not be abrasive. Christians are called to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and, as we know, love is not rude.
A husband who loves his wife will not treat her rudely but with courtesy and respect. A pastor who loves his congregation will not speak of them condescendingly to others. A Christian who loves his neighbor will remember his manners and act in a decorous, fitting way. A life of love is shown in our words and actions and will impact others to bring glory to the Lord.
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