OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
The word “rude” is defined as “discourteous or impolite, especially in a deliberate way, rough in manners or behavior; unmannerly; uncouth.” These definitions should never characterize the child of God’s behavior, but sometimes they do. Christians are to be kind (Eph. 4:32) and courteous (I Pet. 3:8). They are to treat others as they want to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Gentleness (Gal. 5:22) and patience (I Tim. 6:11) and forbearance (Col. 3:13) are to color the Christian’s behavior. This being true, God’s people still often have to deal with the difficulty of being rude.
There are many ways that Christians can be rude in their behaviors. Let’s look at some of these in this article. We are rude Christians when we spread gossip to other individuals. The Bible word for a gossip is “talebearer.” A gossip is an informer. He or she is one who slanders the name of another. Strong describes the gossip as a scandal monger who travels about spreading his tales to all who will listen. Solomon said: “A talebearer revealeth secrets…” (Prov. 11:13). For some reason, we love to tell others what ought to remain private. Or, we tell to others what we ought to saY to the person who has in some way offended us. We fail to remember that “the words of a talebearer are as wounds” (Prov. 18:8). Our tales can harm the individual they are told upon. They can harm them emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. For this cause, God has commanded: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among they people…” (Lev. 19:16).
Another way we can be rude “Christians” is by having fun at another’s expense. Many people like to joke. However, their jokes often include the faults and shortcomings of others. Off the cuff remarks are said, and these words follow: “I’m just kidding.” The reality is that the kidding highlights a flaw in another. Sometimes we make rude comments with nothing else said. The other person hears and is left with hurt feelings. The jokester acts as if he/she has done nothing wrong. Some people can take a joke or a rude remark, especially if it comes from someone who is close to them and really cares for them. Others cannot. They are cut deeply by the uncouth statements others make about them. Many times they lose their respect for the person who likes to have fun at another’s expense. In Ephesians 5:3-4, Paul lists some things that should “not be once named among you, as become saints.” In verse 4, foolish talking and jesting are included in the list. Stopping this practice might be difficult for some of us. We like a good laugh. We think others understand. We believe there is no harm in our actions. Not so! Our remarks are crude, rude, and unattractive. They certainly do not involve speech that has grace and that is seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6).
Another practice that rude “Christians” involve themselves in is disrespect for the elderly. Leviticus 19:32 tells us: “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man…” Paul exhorted Timothy, saying: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father…” (I Tim. 5:1). During the days of Isaiah, the nation of Israel was deep in sin. God warned them about the trials and tribulations that would come if they continued in their sins. In Isaiah 3:5, we read: “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable.” Notice the words: “…the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient…” There was no respect shown. There was no honor given. Remember, this was when Israel and Judah were in a time of apostasy, not faithfulness to God. An example of younger people being rude to an older man is recorded in II Kings 2:23. Elisha was traveling to Bethel, “and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.” The word “children” in this text can refer to young men, not necessarily pre-teenagers or teenagers. On this occasion, punishment was meted out quickly. Verse 24 tells us: “And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.” Forty-two households lost loved ones that day. Why? Because a group of young people choose to be disrespectful to an old prophet. Young people, when older people speak, you need to listen. When they make a request, you need to honor it, if possible. Young people need to respect the elderly by seeking to understand their frailties, by putting up with their quirks, and by never intentionally seeking to rebel against them.
Rude Christians are also ones who ascribe evil motives to others that are not true. Motives are hidden within the hearts of men and women. They are the reasons people do or do not do things. A person can easily put a wrong motive on the behavior or words of another. Suppose you hear that a friend of yours will not let their child have an XBOX for Christmas. You could ascribe an evil motive to him and say that the parent does not really understand children today. You might even affirm that the parent does not really love his child. The real reason the parent does not buy the gift is because the parent wants to teach his child that he needs to work for expensive things that he desires. In such a case, the parent is not being mean at all. The parent is really being a loving parent. He is teaching work ethics, needs versus wants, the value of high priced items, and a host of other things to his child. Preachers often find themselves accused of things they never intended. On one occasion, this writer preached a lesson entitled: “Things to Consider before Giving.” Since the contribution was normally taken at the beginning of the worship service, this writer asked the men to change it to the end. One of the members accused me of trying to get the church to give to me instead of giving to God. That was not my motive at all. Paul asked: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (I Cor. 2:11). The answer to Paul’s question is simple: “No man can know such things!” Be careful before ascribing a motive to another. You may be wrong. If so, you will be rude as well.
There are all kinds of behaviors that can be classified as being rude: being noisy, interrupting others, getting into another’s boundaries, getting into another person’s business, consuming another person’s time, being late, using derogatory words, taking credit for another person’s work, asking inappropriate questions, using profanity, impolite voice tones, rolling one’s eyes while taking to another person, not responding to another who speaks to us, failing to dress for the occasion, poor hygiene, ordering people over whom one has no authority, usurping the authority of another, boasting, eavesdropping on conversations of others, pointing at someone, shouting, failing to be quiet when it is generally expected, and failing to control one’s temper. Many more actions could be added to this list. Dear reader, Christ would not act in the manners described in this article. Let’s leave off rudeness, and let’s be Christians who are truly seeking to be like Christ (Phil. 1:21).