I assumed before I began to investigate this trait, that rudeness (there are a handful of definitions in our dictionaries) was a natural extension of arrogance; that while not all arrogant people are rude, all rude people are arrogant. There may be truth to that, but the thrust of this anti-love trait is revealed in the Greek translation. Love is not rude translates: “does not act unbecomingly,” (aschēmoneō). Unseemly would be a twin. That actually includes the guy that spouts off obscenities to people who make him angry, but unbecoming/unseemly behavior has a much bigger net.
Whatever the manifestation of unbecoming behavior, to be rude is to demonstrate anti-love. On the surface it doesn’t seem like it would qualify, but when I sit with what lies underneath rudeness, I begin to understand….
At a minimum (though this point should not be minimized), rudeness draws attention to itself. It steals the stage. We live in a day and age where reality TV reflects our insatiable appetite for the outlandish. They are designed for shock value…… a little like craning your neck to see the car accident as you pass by on the freeway.
Unseemly also rears it’s head as our culture maximizes EVERY opportunity to use sex to sell, promote, validate….. seriously. I would be very naive to think that “value” has not seeped deep into my being. I can draw from that destructive ‘well’ without even thinking about it (without even thinking being the key phrase). To some degree, unbecoming behavior is the new norm. It makes it harder to spot as we try to self-check. But apparently, loving people do not draw attention to themselves by behaving rudely.
What does it mean to act unbecomingly? There are a slew of synonyms including being inappropriate, offensive, indecent, indelicate, salacious. Every day I’m in multiple situations with colleagues, family, & strangers I meet. What would it take for me to move from healthy engagement to rudeness? How do I contribute or position myself in those conversations?
Frankly, unless I am very tuned to the voice of The Spirit in me, I may not decipher well. If I’m acting rudely, I’d like to think that right in that moment, my conscience would be pricked. And I’d like to think I would be willing, right in that moment, to make an appropriate adjustment.
The other end of the rude spectrum is probably meekness. Meek people are healthy contributors who do what they do while staying off the radar. They never seek to draw attention to themselves. They are focused on investing in whomever is in their path. They deflect attention toward the object of their worship. People see the character of Jesus in them, if they notice them at all. God reserves high honor for meek people.
Imagine being so secure of your worth in the eyes of God, that you were never tempted to put yourself center stage by being rude. Imagine being so focused on loving people, such thoughts don’t even surface.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
~ Matthew 5:5 ~