Love does not Act Unbecomingly
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 13:4-8a; Titus 3:1-2
According to a recent Time magazine article rudeness is on the rise in our society: “September 2021 was a bad month for manners. On the 21st, a woman pulled a gun on servers at a Philadelphia fast food restaurant when they asked her to order online. On the 16th, several women from Texas pummeled a hostess at a New York City family-style restaurant. A few days prior to that a Connecticut mother was investigated for slapping an elementary school bus driver and that same week, a California woman was charged with felony assault for attacking a Southwest airlines flight attendant and dislodging some of her teeth…Americans appear to have forgotten their niceties, especially with those whose job it is to assist them. Lawyers are reporting ruder clients. Restaurants are reporting ruder clients. Flight attendants, for whom rude clients are no novelty, are reporting mayhem.” – Time Magazine, October 15, 2021, by Belinda Luscombe. But you didn’t need a Time magazine article to tell you this, as you’ve no doubt witnessed such bad behaviors yourself.
The term translated “unbecomingly” means to “behave unmannerly, disgracefully or dishonorably.” To act unbecomingly is to be rude, thoughtlessly showing no concern or respect for the rights or feelings of others. We are rude when we fail to be polite and courteous. Note the context, rude behavior is rooted in pride (the characteristic which precedes) and self-centeredness (the characteristic which follows). Rudeness treats other people as if they do not matter.
Rude behavior is nothing new and was evident in the church in Corinth. There were some in the church who were eating meat that had been offered to idols, ignoring the concerns and sensitivities of their weaker brethren (1 Corinthians chapter 8). In their observance of the Lord’s supper, some were vying to go first, and others were drunk (1 Corinthians 11:21-22, 33). And again, there were some who were despising–what they supposed to be–the lesser spiritual gifts of others (1 Corinthians 12:20-25).
Jesus did not act unbecomingly. When you consider His life, you will never find Him looking down on others. He was never thoughtless or inconsiderate. To be sure, He sometimes spoke hard truths, but He always did so in love. He did not treat the supposed important people one way, and the supposed unimportant people in another way. Whereas the religious leaders treated some with contempt, Jesus was thoughtful and considerate towards all, even those deemed by society to be irredeemable or unworthy of respect.
Walking according to Jesus’ example, we need to be careful in how we think of others. According to 1 Peter 2:17 we are to “honor everyone” Treat others and speak to others as if they matter to you (Philippians 2:3; Ephesians 4:29). Be polite. Be courteous. Be thoughtful. When it comes to building and maintaining healthy relationships, and bearing forth a credible testimony, little things can make a big difference
Alexander Strauch has addressed the importance of the matter: “As Western societies become more coarse and thoughtless of basic standards of courtesy and social decency, we must resist the acceptance of rude behavior. If not, it will have a harmful, degrading effect on our lives and our churches.” From a positive perspective, when we are respectful and courteous, according to the example of Jesus, we will shine all the more brightly in the midst of a society where rudeness is increasingly becoming the norm.
Rudeness is Treating Other People as if They Do not Matter. But Jesus Says They Do
Lord Jesus. How we praise You for Your loving and selfless ways! This sin-cursed world can be an awfully cruel place, and we sometimes wonder if anyone cares. But in looking to You we find hope, for amazingly You have gone to incredible lengths to prove that we do matter. How thankful we are that You have loved us and delivered Yourself up for us! How privileged we are to be Your ambassadors here, now. Amidst the growing rudeness of our society, You’ve granted us a unique opportunity to speak and act in a radically different manner, according to Your wonderful example. Grant that we might be led and empowered by the Spirit to be thoughtful and considerate of others, that we might be used by You in making Your gospel known. Amen.