Love isn’t rude (ἀρχεμονέω/archēmoneō, 1 Cor 13:5), it won’t behave disgracefully, dishonorably, or indecently toward another. The Septuagint uses the same Greek term for shaming someone by a too severe lashing in front of neighbors (Deut 25:3) and for stripping something bare in shame (Ezek 16:7, 22, 39; 23:29). Love does exactly the opposite; it covers shameful offenses. Elsewhere in the New Testament the same term denotes impropriety (1 Cor 7:36) or parts that shouldn’t be seen (1 Cor 12:23). Love shows a concern for propriety, good taste, and polite order.
By contrast, there is a so-called holiness that practices cold rudeness toward anyone their legal system brands as “worldly,” and there is a certain brand of religiosity that finds no polite discourse with the wicked—and thus no conversation that could ever lead to evangelism. Love doesn’t tear down bridges to evangelism or restoration like that.
Rudeness & the Charismata
When I’ve arrived at this point in the last few blogs, I’ve felt like I’m just banging on about the obvious, and it should be obvious. But a surprising amount of unloving behavior can go unchecked in what’s supposed to be a loving community. And sometimes love has to be defined and encouraged, even taught—which is just about what Paul’s doing in 1 Corinthians 13 and in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. Where these lessons go unlearned or or forgotten the damage to personal relations is generally horrible. And in this case, if rudeness issues from a Pharisaical sense of superior spirituality it’s toxic. If it gets rationalized as a prophetic bluntness, untold damage can result “in the name of the Lord”—even through a bogus “thus saith the Lord.”
A prayer against rudeness…
Deliver me from the rude, and
Help me not to be rude.
Especially help me never to be rude in your name,
to be rude under the cover of ministry.