In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul tells us that one of the characteristics of Godly love is that it is not rude. In the King James version, it is translated as “love doth not behave itself unseemly.” The word “unseemly” is translated from the Greek word aschēmoneō, which means “to act unbecomingly.” This means that biblical love is not ill-mannered. It is not expressed in a way that is improper, insensitive or dishonoring toward others. Love chooses to respond without resorting to rudeness, even if challenged or offended.
Today, we live in a society where vulgar and explicit words and manner of speaking are considered to be socially acceptable; even well-approved. Rude and indecent behavior becomes a “cool” thing to display. You find it in movies, books, social media, and even in school or at home. Sadly, such prevalent rudeness seems to pollute even the minds of kids and teenagers. Apart from the absolute truth in God’s word, man can never see the error of his ways. The Bible enlightens and reminds us of God’s standards when it comes to how we relate with others. Love is not rude in speech or deeds.
James describes the tongue as being like a flame that with just a small spark can set a great forest on fire (James 3:5). We must realize that rudeness in speech cannot be taken lightly. How we talk to people and what we say to them matters a lot. If spoken with malice and without love, your words are still rude, no matter how honest they are. Proverbs 15:1 tells us that we must learn to give a gentle answer; it deflects anger while answering rudely can cause tempers to flare up. Even speaking the Word of God must be done with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Our words can either build up a person or destroy them. Indeed, the tongue brings the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Ironically, as Christians, the same mouth that we use to praise God is the same mouth that we carelessly use the power of words with as we curse others, who are also made in the image of God (James 3:7-12). Of all God’s creation, we are privileged to have been given the power of speech. We must learn to use it in a way that honors God and others. Love is not rude; it speaks life to others.
Jesus also teaches us not to be rude in our actions toward others but “to do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31). No one wants to be treated with disrespect or embarrassment. The Lord exhorts us to show kindness to others (even our enemies) as this is reflective of His character in us. Our actions should be filled with love and must represent the goodness and kindness of our God. Even when others are rude to us, we must learn to respond with goodness.
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
(1 Peter 3:8-9 KJV)
Rudeness is not just limited to unruly speech or actions toward others, but it also includes the failure to do something good or kind that one is normally expected to do—for instance, not saying common courtesies like “thank you” or “please,” failing to express sincere apologies when one offends someone, whether intentionally or unintentionally, or being passive when someone is in need of help. Such kinds of omissions are still considered rude (James 4:17). As God’s people, we are called to be proactive in showing kindness. Love is not rude; it is not offensively aggressive or apathetic.
Our greatest example of a love that is not rude is the love of Christ. He does not force Himself on anyone but knocks and waits for them to accept Him (Revelations 3:20). Even when man has been rude, unfaithful, and unloving toward Him, He remains patient, kind, and gentle. That unconditional love led Him to endure the cross for our sake. If we have rudeness in our hearts, God is able to change that. The Holy Spirit enables us to replace rudeness with the fruit of the Spirit. Let us remember how Jesus expressed His love to us by suffering on the cross. People were rude to Him, but He did not respond rudely; He remained silent and faithful to His mission of saving us through His sacrifice.
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
(1 Peter 2:23-24 KJV)