Love is Not Rude

My heart sank as I checked my Facebook notifications. I had commented about emotions I was feeling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I’m confident of God’s goodness, I’m still very concerned about how the pandemic will impact people around the globe. That’s why it stung a little to read this reply from a complete stranger: “You’re weak” he said. He might be right, but I didn’t understand why it was necessary to say.

I don’t want to expend valuable emotional energy being offended. It was a very minor comment, and “love keeps no record of wrongs.” I’m not sharing this to garner sympathy or hold a grudge, but simply to illustrate a point. Rudeness causes pain, tearing people down rather than building them up. Scripture reminds us: “Love is not rude…” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NCV).

Our culture has become increasingly polarized, opinionated, and rude. If you turn on the news or read a politically or socially charged debate on social media, you will likely sense thick hostility in the air. It seems that the enemy has been on a mission to rob humans of our ability to express our own beliefs without demeaning or belittling others.

The only person who was never rude is Jesus…

The word rude can be defined multiple ways. It can mean “offensively impolite or ill-mannered,” “ignorant and uneducated,” or “primitive, lacking subtlety or sophistication” (Google Dictionary). These definitions indicate that rudeness makes us less noble and less human than we were created to be.

Most of us can recall times when we’ve been rude, as well as when we’ve been hurt by rudeness. The only person who was never rude is Jesus: “He exercised the greatest tact, and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul.” The quote goes on to say that even when Jesus had to confront people, he never resorted to rudeness: “He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice… Every soul was precious in His eyes” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 353).

As we dialogue with those around us, let’s ask ourselves: “Does the way I’m speaking reveal that I believe every soul is precious?” By rejecting the impulse to be rude, we can become more noble, more human, and ultimately—more like Jesus.

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Elise Harboldt

Elise studies theology at Andrews University. A registered nurse, her background is in health ministry and resource development. She is the coauthor of Goodbye Diabetes, Diabetes Undone and graduated from ARISE in 2007.