LISTEN TO: "
If You Give a Little Love You Can Get a Little Love of Your Own"
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "
As part of our 2019 resolution to become more Christ-like, we continue our walk through Paul's inspired passage on love. Paul breaks down for us what Love does, just as Jesus models for us in his actions and teachings how love acts and reacts in the world. Today we meditate on the the bad habit of being rude and how it gets in the way of love.
Who remembers ten years ago when an unknown frumpy-looking,middle-aged lady from Scotland appeared on "Britain's Got Talent"? As she shared her dreams, the camera pans the audience, focuses on the judges' reactions. People were rolling their eyes. Smirking. Having a laugh at her expense. When Susan Boyle began to sing the tables were turned. People were on their feet clapping. And Susan Boyle (who has gone on to a successful international singing career) very graciously accepted the response. She was used to being bullied. But her talent, her faith and training to be polite and gracious won the day. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk)
Sadly rudeness has encroached on our daily lives. Have you ever heard someone be rude under the guise of "telling it like it is?" People hog seats on the train, carry on conversations on their cellphone while you're trying to rest or concentrate. Drivers weave in and out of traffic -- cut in closely without signaling. Sometimes there's an edge to our voice. People interrupt when someone else is speaking. Those emails --- that are snide and provocative. We forget to say Thank you or show appreciation for other's efforts or gifts.
Think of our passage from Luke, the Prodigal Son. I like to call this passage "the Rudest Brothers: Which One Is Worse?". Younger brother demands his inheritance from his father, who is far from death's door. How insensitive is that! Unheard of! The young fellow takes his money and leaves his family, and spends the inheritance on loose living--ignoring his spiritual inheritance in the process. When the young man comes to his senses and returns home -- apologizing to his father -- it's older brother's turn to be rude. He refuses to join the party, although he know how much his father wants him there. He cares nothing for his younger brother, and is unyielding in his judgment. Both boys think only of themselves, their own situations. They don't hesitate to tell their father what they believe, no matter how much it will hurt dad. This is not how Jesus calls us to be! Look at the father. He doesn't return insult for insult -- with either son. He waits. No doubt he prays every day. He checks the horizon. He runs (unheard of for a dignified man of means!) He embraces his wayward son. He forgives him. He welcomes him back like a prince. When his elder son lashes out at him, he responds patiently, lovingly. With both sons, he doesn't force his point of view -- he allows each son his free will. He seeks reconciliation. That's the opposite of rudeness! Yet, how many people would see this father as a "wimp," and not be able to recognize the strength and depth of his love?
Being rude is a sign of spiritual immaturity -- it's linguistic roots come from the word "rudis:" "unformed," inexperienced," or "unpolished." In our ignorance we believe what we have to say is more important than someone's feelings. There is a place and time for being blunt. But it must be handled with prayer and care. We are called to cultivate kindness in speech, courtesy, and tact. It's learning to balance the impact of your words and actions on others. It's learning to live like the father of those two rascals in Luke's parable -- a man experienced in love, formed by patience, and well polished -- he deals with the conflict with both sons in a way that his actions and words are healing and gracious. How many of us could overlook the offense given this father -- and continue to respond with such loving kindness? When we are tempted to rudeness, or to react rudely to someone else's behavior, let us reach for the higher spiritual ground -- and let loving graciousness rule the day!
PRAY: "O God, may my words and actions be courteous and helpful"