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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Matt's Messages - "Love Is Not Rude"

“Love Is Not Rude”
Learning to Love
November 2, 2008
1 Corinthians 13:5

Say it with me, would you?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude...”

That’s love. 1 Corinthians 13 is a portrait of love. A snapshot of love.

Actually, it’s more like a video clip of love. Because it moves. Love moves. It doesn’t just sit there. It does something.

Love IS patient.
Love IS kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast.
Love IS NOT proud.

How are we doing at learning to love?

Has this sermon series been helpful to you in your relationships?

Does anybody have a story to tell of how your relationships have improved over the last month? How they have been more loving? More biblically loving? More Christ-like and more godly?

Last week, we ended with a call to humble ourselves and learn to say, “I’m sorry.”

Love is not proud. And it means learning to say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”

Anybody issue an apology this week?

I made a point to get a hold of the person I talked about last week.

Someone I had basically lied to. I had said that I would kind of do something or encouraged them to think that I would, and then I really hadn’t done anything to keep that promise. And I had been only half-heartedly seeking to apologize to them–out of my pride.

I caught that person on the phone this week, and asked for his forgiveness.

And he said, “Of course I forgive you, I understand, and I have even greater respect for you now than I did before.” That surprised me.

But he was valuing my humbling myself.

He knew that humility takes some courage. Pride is cowardly. And love is not proud.

Does anybody else have a story of how they’ve been growing at loving in a 1 Corinthians kind of way? Or a story about how someone in your life or your family has been growing?

Today, we step into verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13. The first five love qualities were in verse 4. Two of them were stated positively: love is patient, love is kind. The last three have been stated negatively: love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud.

Now, in verse 5, Paul continues to describe love negatively–by saying what love is NOT.

In this case, “Love Is Not Rude.”

“It is not rude.”

“Love is not rude.”

The King James translates this, “[it] doth not behave itself unseemly.”

Love is not inappropriate.

It doesn’t misbehave.

It is not rude or crude.

It doesn’t behave “with ill-mannered impropriety” [Athony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NIGTC (pg.1049)].

It doesn’t behave shamefully or disgracefully.

Love does not intentionally or carelessly choose to do the wrong thing in a social situation.

That’s what rudeness is.

Rudeness is intentionally or carelessly choosing to do the wrong thing in a social situation.

And love is not rude.

Loving people don’t mistreat other people.

We live in a rude society.

Our culture values independence, free-thinking, and saying your mind over propriety, considerateness, and courtesy.

Our culture values vulgarity, extreme behavior, and taking advantage of others–looking out for “number one.” Over tact, public decency, and social good manners.

We live in a rude society where people intentionally or carelessly mistreat other people.

One author makes this list of common rude actions:

Acting disgracefully
Acting contrary to the established standards of proper conduct and decency.
Inappropriate dress
Inconsiderate talk
Disregard for other people’s time or moral conscience
Taking advantage of people
Tactlessness
Ignoring the contributions and ideas of others
Running roughshod over other’s plans and interests
Inappropriate behavior with the opposite sex
Basic discourtesy
General disregard for proper social conduct
[Leading with Love, Alexander Strauch, pg. 59]

Know anybody like that? That’s rudeness.

And love is not rude.

I see a lot of rudeness on the Internet.

I think that people forget that there are other people that they are writing to and about when they get to typing on their keyboards.

I also think that high-schoolers have a high level of rudeness, as well.

There is something about those high-school years that tends to encourage rudeness.

I could be a pretty rude highschooler myself.

Now, I wasn’t known for my rudeness. But I remember those occasions when I was rude, very vividly.

There was another guy in my grade, named Jeff, who seemed to have it out for me.

He knocked the books I was carrying down in the hallway.

He made fun of me in front of other people.

He called me a Nerd and a Geek (which I was, but he didn’t have to say it).

He was rude to me.

Unfortunately, I chose to be rude to him in return.

I remember one time telling him, “Get a life, Jeff! And if you can’t find one, I have an extra one hanging up in my closet.” Of course, that retort doesn’t make any sense and sounds even geekier now than when I first said it. But it sure wasn’t loving.

And Jeff played football. And I remember saying to him. “Duh, football! That’s where 11 guys line up on one side of a line and 11 guys line up on the other side and then they run into each other. Sounds smart!”

You can see why Paul put pride right next to rude in 1 Corinthians 13.

And, then one time I was feeling my Wheeties, and I found him on the stairwell, and I knocked his books down, on the stairs.

I was rude.

Was I a Christian? Yeah, I was. And this was a major inconsistency in my life.

Was I loving this young man like a Christ-follower should? No, I wasn’t...to my shame.

What haunts me most about how I was rude to Jeff is that he didn’t live very long.

Jeff died in the military, in a accident with a jeep, just a few years after we all graduated from high school.

And I can’t take back anything I said or did. He’ll never be at one of my high school reunions.

I was rude, and I live with God’s forgiveness, but not Jeff’s. And I live with a real regret.

Love is not rude.

Now, you and I may not struggle with blatant rudeness.

We may not be tempted to be obscene or crude in a social situation.

But rudeness still creeps into and corrupts our relationships.

Can spouses be rude to each other in a marriage?

How about this one?

Cutting each other off in mid-sentence.

Not waiting until your spouse is done talking before you give your answer.

Oh, sure, you know what they’re going to say. But you don’t get points in marriage for being a mind-reader. You do for being a good listener.

Does rudeness creep into parent-child relationships?

It sure does. I think, other than “be patient.” We use the word “rude” more often than any other word in this description of love as we do our training with our children.

Rudeness is a temptation for Christians.

Have you ever cut someone off in traffic? Or hurried up to take that parking space that someone else was gunning for?

How about on the job? Hanging up on someone? Demanding, not asking for something. Telling a joke that’s just a little off color?

I used to struggle with that one. I didn’t tell really raunchy jokes, but I like to walk the line and just push the boundary a little.

We think that we’re being clever, but we’re really being rude.

Love is not rude.

Can rudeness creep into our church relationships?

It sure can. It did at Corinth. Remember, 1 Corinthians wasn’t written for weddings. It was written for a church that was struggling to love each other.

Christian folks were taking advantage of each other at Corinth. Misbehaving. And people were getting hurt.

Proverbs 26:19 should be memorized by everyone:

“Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking!’”

It’s no good to be rude and then pretend that it was just joking.

There is too much at stake.

Love is not rude.

Can you imagine Jesus Christ being rude?

It’s unthinkable.

Of course, there were things that Jesus did that almost seem rude. He wasn’t always meek and mild and gentle, was He?

So, not everything that is forceful or that cuts across social conventions is rude.

Because Jesus was forceful and Jesus cut across some social conventions!

But He was never rude.

Jesus was never rude.

But catch this!

God saw Him as rude one day. The Father looked upon Jesus, His Son and condemned rudeness in His flesh.

All of my rudeness was placed on Jesus’ shoulders. And He bore the punishment that I deserved.

Every disgraceful act.
Every inconsiderate speech.
Every disregarding of other people’s time, moral conscience, contribution, idea.
Every time I ran roughshod over my kid’s plans and interests.
Every discourtesy.

Placed upon Jesus.

How I treated my classmate, Jeff. Placed upon Jesus.

In a minute, we’re going to go to the Lord’s Table and celebrate the Great Exchange.

My rudeness on Him. His righteousness on me. What a thought.

That’s the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.

The unthinkable happened. Jesus was treated as the one who was rude.

And I was given His rude-free righteousness!

He died and rose again for me.

And that gives me the power to say NO to rudeness.

That gives me the power to love.

And love is not rude.

What is the opposite of rudeness? How should we live?

When I asked that question to my wife, she said, “Kindness.”

Love is Kind. It is not rude.

That’s right.

Let me add another word to the mix: respectfulness.

Here’s another: tactful.

Polite.
Courteous. [In America today, we don’t even know what that word means!]
Sensitive.
Decent.
Proper.
Decorous. Do you know that word? Decorous?

It means to do something with decorum.

Love is decorous.

It intentionally chooses the right thing in a social situation.

It actually chooses good manners.

Now, I don’t know much about manners like which fork to use and which what pinky to raise when you sip your tea!

But I do know that when I see a young person who says, “Yes, sir. Or Yes, Ma’am.” I see something that is good and right and (when done with the right heart behind it)–loving.

Love is decorous.

Let’s conduct our relationships with decorum.

Like last week, we could come up with 17 points of application from “Love is Not Rude.” And each one of us probably needs a different one.

Maybe you’re thinking of one right now of how this applies to you and your situation.

I’d like to narrow this done to 1 major application:

Let’s learn to say “Please and Thank You.”

Not to be nicey-nice.

But to be loving.

Please and Thank You.

About a year ago, I complained to my wife that our kids didn’t say “Please” and “Thank You” enough.

And she said, “That’s because you don’t.”

“You don’t say it enough to me or to them.”

“You may say it to others, but you don’t say it enough around the house.”

Ouch.

How about you? Do you say, “Please” when you ask for something?

Do you say it at work?

Do you say it, not just to those over you, but to those under you?

Do you say it to your wife?

Do you say it to your husband?

Do you say it to your kids?

Do you say it to your neighbor?

How about “thank you?”

Love is not rude. And sometimes, the way to get to the opposite is to simply say, “Please and Thank You.”

That’s decorum. And it’s very attractive.

A few years ago I was at a Burger King with another pastor and his family, and pastor’s oldest son ordered his hamburger like this, “May I please have a Whopper with Cheese?” That’s how he asked the lady behind the counter.

“May I please have a Whopper with Cheese?”

Not, “Give me a Whopper with Cheese.”

Not, as I might say, “I’d like a Whopper with Cheese.” Actually, I’d probably say, “I’d like 2 Whoppers with extra Cheese!”

But that young man stood out. He was confident. He was happy. He knew what he wanted. But he asked it in a courteous manner.

And it stood out.

One of my professors says that he can spot a marriage that is headed for disaster within the first few minutes of listening to them talk to one another.

If their speech is full of contempt and rudeness, he can spot trouble right away.

Marriages full of contempt and rudeness are unhealthy and often fail.

“Please” “Thank you.”

Not to be nicey-nice and cover up trouble.

But to be loving.

Because “Love is Not Rude.”

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