Christian Love Does Not Behave Rudely
As we discussed in several of our previous messages, Christian love is about being a blessing to other people. Interestingly, most of us believe that rude behavior is not be a blessing, but we will challenge this belief as we look at some of the actions of Jesus presented in scripture.
What we are about to present to you is an understanding that Jesus delivered His message of truth without concern for an offensive reaction by the person receiving His message. In fact, taking the more difficult path of delivering God’s message in this way is often a requisite to true Christian love. The following scripture is a wonderful example:
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, is it the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it. Fools and blind! For which is greater, is it the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar swears by it and by all things on it. He, who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he, who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; or I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ (Matthew 23:13 – 39)
After reading this passage how can we reconcile the following facts?
- Love does not behave rudely
- Jesus is the model of love perfected
The above message of Jesus is bold, uses name calling and insinuates that the Jews are not what they would otherwise appear to be. This seems inherently rude and I can understand that taken from the Jewish perspective, it would seem very offensive. On the other hand, the points made by Jesus are true and are necessary information for the salvation of the scribes and Pharisee’s receiving the message. Therefore, they are not rude. To the contrary, one can make a point that it would have been rude to withhold such information.
This is because by remaining silent He would have denied them the opportunity to see the errors of their ways and repent. Being rude would have allowed them to blindly fall into the darkness of the devils’ lies and therein depriving them of an eternity with God. By leading them to the truth, Jesus gives them an opportunity to abandon their misguided course toward self destruction. The truth from God is not rude but rather a fact that must be dealt with for the salvation of us all.
Willful lies told by the devil and the people he influences are rude because they are designed to both mislead and injure. They are designed to divert you from your intended direction and in so doing divert you from your purpose in life. These lies are craftily created to focus on self and in doing so, kill your destiny and ruin your opportunity to live in eternally in the presence of God. They are designed to place you into the bondage and torture of the devil.
In looking at the actions of the Scribes and Pharisees, I would have to say that they were not at all interested in getting to the truth, but rather in promoting their own power and prestige. To do this they sought to defeat Jesus by trapping Him at His own words. Their motives were to eliminate Jesus who had become a threat to their position in life, in the church and in the political structure of the government under Roman rule. Despite the signs and wonders that they personally witnessed they proceeded to hound Jesus and question Him at every opportunity in an effort to destroy Him. In taking these steps they destroyed the truth, hope and love that had been sent to them by the Father.
The point to all of this is that being rude may not be what you think it is. You can be rude by being silent even when there is no sense of offense by the other party. On the other hand you are not rude when you tell the truth to protect a person from harm, even when there may be outrage by them.
This type of love is sometimes referred to as “tough love” because it risks the relationship itself. Program’s like Alcoholics Anonymous often use this term because it is difficult to speak the truth to someone you love when you know that you laying your relationship on the line. On the other hand, this is exactly what Jesus did for us by giving His life for us on the cross. We needed the truth from Jesus to understand that we are sinners and that we need His help to change from our wicked ways to ways that are pleasing to God. So in a like way, we must challenge others with the truth. Without the truth there will not be change and without change there will be a loss of life. In cases like there, being silent is an easy way out, but it is also rude because it results in the potential loss of a life and a loved one.
Then should we not be taking a tough stand like Jesus did? Should we consider it rude to tell the truth to those who do not know God? Certainly not! In cases where a soul is at stake we have an obligation to speak up regardless of how rude the message may appear to be. Let’s look at what Jesus taught us about this situation:
Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:33 – 34)
Therefore, if you speak the truth of Jesus you will have an advocate with the Father, but if you keep silent you will have the testimony of Jesus against you. It would seem to me that speaking God’s truth is the wise course. In addition, what we speak is a reflection of what is in our heart. Let’s look at another quotation of Jesus:
Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:34 – 37)
In addition, if we say nothing it is a reflection that there is nothing in our hearts. If we do not speak the truth of Jesus when the opportunity arises then we do not have a love of Jesus and God the Father in our hearts. For surly they would lead us reach out to the lost and tell them the truth. Our failure to do so is rude indeed.
We have presented a number of posting that address the principles of Christian Love. Each of them is reinforced by examples taken from the life and words of Jesus. The following list of hyperlinks is provided to help those interested in reading these other postings. Clicking on any of the links below will transfer you to the posting of your choice: