1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is not proud or rude”
After Paul deals with jealousy and boasting he goes on to reveal the second pair of negative love killers.
The word used here literally means to be puffed up, just as bellows expand and become filled with the air that they take in so the proud become full of themselves. It’s interesting to note that in Paul’s list of what “love is NOT” pride comes on the heels of boasting because there is a difference between the two. Where boasting is the outward display pride is the inward disposition, boasting is the outward expression of the prideful person just expressing what is filling their life. Like the air pushed out of the bellows that adds fuel to the fiery furnace so boasting adds heat to an already burning fire igniting a blaze. Prideful, puffed-up people end up with an exaggerated opinion of their own importance, and are likely to assume that their happiness, well-being, opinions, and feelings are the only things that really count. Puffed-up people find it easy to dismiss the needs and feelings of others because pride is motivated by self and so sees others as inferior. Pride brings a deadly double danger because the arrogance that makes us unwilling to receive others help also makes us insensitive to those who need ours. In contrast, love is modest and humble and modesty is an outward expressing of the humility that fills them. Paul says that we reveal and display what we are, that what’s in there will come out. The first place we need to look to see if we have a puffed-up sense of our own importance is in our prayer life, what or who is the focus of our prayers? Pride needs to focus on self and its own interests and where love is free to serve others pride becomes the slave of self. God reminds us in Luke 14:11 that we do not need to promote self and if we do then He will humble us. Luke 14:11 “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” As sinners, clothing ourselves with modesty does not come easily or naturally, the truth is that we have to be taught. The lessons of modesty are often painful and the bible is filled with people that were humbled before they become great. Before Joseph became the Prime Minister of Egypt, he had to spend time as a slave serving others even being cast into an Egyptian prison learning to serve others in chains. Before Moses, who started in the palace of Pharaoh, ever became the great deliverer and leader of Israel, he had to spend time as a shepherd herding livestock.
In the middle of this great chapter of love Paul says that Love is not rude and often I have hear this interpreted that we are to mind our manners. Yet what does this really mean and is rudeness just a matter of manners? I think it has to be more than this because what is rude to you might not be considered rude to someone else. A classic example of this is burping at a meal, we might consider this rude while other cultures consider it rude not to, because it shows appreciation for the meal. Even when all cultures consider something rude their expression of it may differ, for example we all consider it rude to ignore someone who is speaking. Yet it is often expressed differently, one culture respects this through making eye contact and another by looking down and not making eye contact. The problem with viewing rudeness simply in the context of manners is that there are many different cultures and rudeness then becomes a function of culture. The point of Paul’s teaching here is again the focus, without love self takes priority at the expense of others. Rudeness then is not a lack of manners but of love. Manners may vary across countries but how we think and act traverses all cultures. When we act thoughtlessly rudeness is revealed in our lack of thought for others feelings and views. We become concerned for self without consideration for others. Rudeness also shows up in our carelessness, when we act without caring and the effect it has on another person. In contrast, Love thinks before it speaks, weighing the needs and feelings of others and is willing to extend the grace that it has received from the Lord. The definition, “love is not rude” is more than just concerned with actions it also includes our attitudes. So when it comes to caring about others feelings and concerns this also means seeing others view of what is rude and not just our own. The secret to politeness, courtesy and respect is love not culture. Love controlled behavior never asks others to prove their love by doing something that is wrong, it creates shame free living for others. Those who love will never ask others to prove their loyalty by lying, cheating, or stealing and real love will never tell others “if you love me you’ll prove it by giving yourself to me.” Jesus wasn’t rude and we see that in His willingness to focus on others, refusing to turn the children away when the disciples would have, and instead blessed them because He cared what happened to them. At the home of Simon the Pharisee when His feet were left unwashed and no oil was offered to refresh him as was the custom, He did not shame his host but showed grace. When the sinful woman anointed Him with perfume, washing His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair, He valued her feelings and intentions. He honored her for her devotion rather than shaming her for her lifestyle. So what is filling you, self or the Savior, what is defining you, rudeness or the Redeemer?