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“Love Does Not Act Rudely”

A Short Commentary On 1 Corinthians 13:5[a]

by Dr. Eitan Bar
2 minutes read

Rudeness, often characterized by abrupt, harsh, or unconsidered behaviors, disrupts the fabric of community and personal relationships. It reflects a disregard for the feelings of others, operating against the grain of social harmony and mutual respect. In this verse’s original context, Paul addresses a community riddled with conflicts, boasting, and a lack of unity. His description of love serves as a corrective framework, urging the Corinthians to reconsider their actions and interactions within their community. The call to abandon rudeness is a call to elevate their communal life and to treat each other with the dignity and respect that comes from recognizing each other as valuable members of the same body.

In practical terms, avoiding rudeness means being consciously gentle in our dealings with others. It involves active listening, speaking kindly, and engaging in a manner that affirms the other person’s worth. This is not just about avoiding negative behaviors but about proactively fostering an environment where all can feel secure and respected. Moreover, this principle of love challenges us to think about the implications of our words and actions. It encourages us to ask whether our words build up or tear down, whether they soothe or stir trouble. In a broader sense, this approach to love can transform personal relationships and extend into wider societal interactions. When communities embody this principle, they create spaces where people can thrive in mutual respect and understanding.

Thus, not acting rudely is fundamentally about cultivating a character that consistently reflects the love and grace we ourselves also hope to receive. It involves making a daily, even momentary, decision to be polite and choosing to interact with kindness, to elevate and affirm rather than diminish. This commitment extends beyond avoiding overt rudeness to include the subtler aspects of communication, such as refraining from unnecessary sarcasm and cynicism, which can undermine genuine connection. While humor most definitely has its place, being mindful of how our words affect others is crucial as “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21). This ongoing practice not only enriches our personal lives but also contributes to the health and well-being of our communities, reflecting a mature understanding of what it means to live out love as envisioned in the Christian faith.

This article is from my book, “The Theology of Love: Christianity’s Most Underrated Doctrine.

The Theology of Love

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist