Love is not Rude
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. 1 Corinthians 13:4a,b,c
After he lists two of the characteristics of love – patience and kindness – the apostle Paul begins his list of traits uncharacteristic of love. Envy, boastfulness, and arrogance begin the unloving list, followed by the declaration that love is not rude. One who is rude to another is not only unkind, but is deliberately unkind. It is one thing to hurt a person unintentionally; it is quite another to hurt someone on purpose. Many times I have said or written something that someone else received in a negative way that I did not intend. That is not rude. It may be careless or thoughtless, but it is not rude.
What motivates us to do something intentionally that we know will offend another? A common reason stems from our own insecurity. We feel a person has more than they deserve and so we seek to cheapen their good fortune by surmising that they probably inherited their money, or they moved up in an organization in unethical ways, or they were born with superior genes. A less obvious manifestation of rudeness occurs in gossip – speaking poorly about a person who is not present. Gossip is intentionally cruel because we say things about another in their absence that we would not say in their presence.
The theme of this series of Life Notes is love. Love manifests in relationship with others. It is a verb, meaning action is required. Even though love demands that we act in ways that are not harmful to another, I find myself most likely to be rude to those I profess to love the most. Love and rudeness are uneasy partners, although much rudeness stems from our inability to love as we should.
I will go out on a limb and proclaim that the number one reason many people act in rude ways is that they feel unloved and unworthy of receiving love. Somewhere in their past their inherent need to be loved was shunned, perhaps repeatedly, and they learned that being cynical is less risky than trying to reach out or respond in love. Such a person becomes like the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They gain a measure of pleasure in seeing others suffer. When pain has been the primary outcome of our key relationships, pain is all we know how to give. Seen in this light, rudeness is a desperate cry for help. We are not offended when a baby cries out in the middle of the night. We recognize the need in another that they cannot yet express in a more loving manner. It should be no different with the adults in our lives – more difficult, certainly, but no different. Everyone needs and deserves love. Sometimes, we are called to love through the pain of another, even when they are rude.
Let us make 2016 the year of love, as love was meant to be.