By Sheryl Murray
- I have someone in my life who is difficult. She often ridicules my cooking, my parenting, and my life in general. You know the kind–someone who points out when you’ve gained a pound or used the wrong word. I’d steer clear of her, but she’s a relative. I try to just ignore her comments, but sometimes I respond rudely either in word or in deed.
- I am a Christian. Jesus has forgiven me and saved me from my sins. He paid the penalty of my misdeeds with His death and then conquered death with His resurrection. He has given me new life, an abundant life, an eternal life. Why? Because I’m made in His image–because He loves me with an all-encompassing, unconditional love.
So . . . how do I reconcile these two truths? How do these two conditions of my life fit together? How does paragraph 2 affect paragraph 1?
This summer the Equip Her blog writers are tackling 1 Corinthians 13–the Love chapter. I signed up for “Love does not dishonor others (act unbecomingly).” The NIV translates this as, “Love is not rude.” I picked this one because, as you can surmise from paragraph 1, I wrestle with this one.
Loving those who love me–that’s not too hard. As for strangers, acquaintances, and friends, I can be polite. Nebraskans are, as a rule, polite. Polite I think I’ve got down for those folks. But God asks me to love–love everyone. In His description of love He doesn’t say, “Love is polite.” He says, “Love is not rude; Love does not dishonor others.” That is a much higher calling.
To honor someone is to recognize their humanity. Each person is uniquely created in God’s image with a spirit that will last throughout eternity. Everyone, even difficult people, deserve respect and a measure of honor, not because of something they have done or accomplished but just because they are created by God and loved by Him.
With the Spirit’s wisdom, here are some ways that I can honor that difficult person in my life. In essence, not be rude:
- Don’t react negatively. Respond with grace.
- Speak kindly, in a patient, gracious tone.
- Treat her with respect.
- Take the time to listen beyond her words.
- Speak truth to her in love.
- Don’t gossip about her.
- Forgive, remembering that God has forgiven me.
Agape love, God’s unconditional, grace-filled love doesn’t react to others negatively. If someone is rude, God’s love responds, not with rudeness but instead with grace and truth.
Dear Father, Only love, that agape love that only you can give, will give me the strength and the courage to not be rude. Only your unconditional, grace-filled love can provide the power to not be rude, not dishonor, and not act unbecomingly. Continue to fill me with your Holy Spirit that He might flow through me to a world that so desperately needs your love. Amen.