July 09, 2017

Love Is Not Rude

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. . . .

—  1 Corinthians 13:4-5

In the middle of this list of love’s qualities, most of which are easy to understand, is one that may sound simple but is really difficult to define: “Love . . . does not dishonor others.” Another translation says, “It is not rude.”

Each society has different ideas of what’s polite and what’s rude. In some societies it is ­polite to burp after a meal to let the cook know how delicious and satisfying the meal was. In ­other societies people would be shocked and embarrassed to hear a burp, and the one who burped would apologize for his rudeness.

In any society, people are trained from childhood in their culture’s rules of politeness. Some people think politeness is the same as snobbish hypocrisy. They may deliberately enjoy disrupting a society’s way of doing things. But politeness is simply one way of showing love, respect, and honor for others.

We’re supposed to honor not just our father and mother, “stand up in the presence of the aged, [and] show respect for the elderly” (Leviticus 19:32). We are to respect all people, regardless of age, for love is not rude. “It does not dishonor ­others.”

Lord God, you can see through the veneer of ­hypocrisy, where the heart really has no love. Plant in us true respect and love for others, that we may honor them in our hearts and in our openly expressed manners. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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