Are We Living Our Lives in Christ?
Love is not rude… 1 Corinthians 13.5 (NCV)
Paul teaches us in this passage that love is not rude. If we forget what the New Testament is all about – our new life in Christ – we easily misinterpret this teaching to be some sort of new ethical injunction. Often Christians read this verse as saying, “Thou shalt not be rude.”
So in sincere obedience we set about doing our best to avoid being rude. As long as we’re not being rude, we’ll tend to feel good about ourselves and invariably we’ll feel bad about ourselves when we are rude. We’ll also notice rude behavior in others and judge them accordingly just as we judge ourselves.
But we’ve missed the point entirely. Paul’s point is not that we should try hard to avoid rudeness. Instead Paul is insisting that we must live our lives in love. Simply put, if you are living out of the love of God, you won’t be rude.
What I’m saying is 1 Corinthians 13 is not some sort of new to do list or the ten commandments of love. Instead Paul was describing what life is like in Christ - what it means to live your life in love. His purpose was not to get us to ACT different. His purpose was to help us BE different.
In telling us love is not rude, what Paul was actually doing was giving us a red flag to help us notice when we are acting out of love and when we’re not. He’s telling us what evidence to look for in those who are participating in the life and love of Jesus. Because a person who is living out the love of God in their life will not be rude.
Similarly, when Paul told the Galatians that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, he was not trying to tell us to try to act more loving, joyful or peaceful. If we could simply will these things into existence, they wouldn’t be the fruit of the Spirit. Paul was encouraging us to live in the Spirit and not the flesh. The manifestation of our life of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.