You don’t have to have a degree in biblical studies to know that love is a dominate theme in the Scriptures. One example will suffice. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul lists a number of Christian virtues. Then, in verse 14, he says this about love:
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Pretty much he is saying that love is what makes everything else work. I Corinthians 13 is the gold standard for learning what Christian love looks like. No, the chapter does not come with a footnote that says these principles are to be applied to parenting. It does not need to. The teaching of the Holy Spirit is clear. Love is to dominate everything we do from play to work to parenting.
These four verses in 1 Corinthians 13 make fifteen statements about love. The first two are positive. They are followed by eight negative statements. Finally, the list concludes with five positive statements. In this post we come to number four of the negative statements:
Love is not rude or as another translation says, love does not dishonor others.
Rude carries the idea of rough, uncaring treatment of others. This idea is similar to Proverbs 18:13 which says that it is folly and shameful to answer before listening. Answering before listening is a form of dishonor. Love conveys honor and respect for others. Thus being rude is dishonorable towards others.
Think with me about your experience with teachers or employers who were always quick to criticize. It seemed that they were always letting you know that they knew far more about almost anything than you did. You never seemed to be able to finish a sentence before you were corrected. They never appeared to appreciate any contribution you might make. You never felt respected, just tolerated, if that. The more you learned the more inadequate you felt. Even when you won praise, you knew that it was not enough. In a word you were dishonored. How did that relationship work out for you? How likely were you to seek them out when something was troubling you?
Now, put yourself in the place of your children. It is true they are in constant need of instruction and correction. It is true that sin comes naturally to them. It is true that they often do not respect and honor you as they should. But, in all of this are they treated with honor?
Rudeness or dishonor is the opposite of love. Too often, well-meaning Christian parents will say something like, I am only being hard on you because I love you. This is a dangerous statement to make. Treating your children with honor as you correct, discipline, and instruct means that you are truly loving them. Adding the phrase that you are only being strict and hard on them because you love them does not compensate for a lack of honor.
We are learning that not to love has devastating consequences. Being short, frustrated, demanding, and in-compassionate needs to be called for what it is – rude. This truth is a warning that dishonor does not build relationships. If you want your children to see you as a refuge, think first about how you can honor them with love. Don’t fall into the trap of the enemy that says your children have not earned the right to be treated with honor. Listen instead to the voice of the Spirit which says that love does not dishonor children. Remember love is patient and kind. It is not rude.