Which of Santa's reindeers needs to mind his manners the most? "Rude"olph!
The so-called “Love Chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 is quoted at many wedding ceremonies as how we are supposed to love one another. After an introduction of resounding gongs and clanging cymbals, we are led to a thesis that “If I have not love, I am nothing…but have not love I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3,4). Then before telling us that on this side of eternity we are imperfect and “see through a glass darkly (a poor reflection in a mirror” (v.12), the Apostle Paul tells us what love is.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (vs. 4-8a). Paul tells us that we now see or do all of this imperfectly like a child until perfection comes and we see and know fully. That time is the soon second coming of Jesus Christ to rule and reign and show us, even complete us in His love. “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him… There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 3:16,18). It is God who is love and first loved us so that we could love others. We can’t do it on our own. We are too selfish as the above passage describes. For me beyond the selfish, which was the reason for the fall along with pride, is being “rude.”
As you might expect, this Christmas time of year, my name sometimes drifts into Rudolph, like the one with the red shiny nose dancing dangerously on the roof of a neighbor’s rooftop. He has a red nose to guide the sleigh, which makes sense. Or at least it comports with some FAA regulations on flying things. I don’t see many drones with red flashing lights. But I digress. I have been in a very worshipful and introspective time of my life as God has laid His hand heavily on me about certain behaviors/sins that He wants me to confront with His help. In other words God, through the Holy Spirit and His Word has told me that I need to heed the Epistle of James’s admonition to be, “Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19). Paul goes on to talk about getting rid of all moral filth and evil and to humbly accept the word of God, not just listening to it, but doing it.
Well, I have been convicted that I speak a lot, which is not pleasing to God. As well I am quick to speak and not so much on the listening side, even though I am a healthcare chaplain who would always be a listening presence. Some say that I just get excited and “over speak” or interrupt people. That is often true, and this also is sinful and rude. Yes rude, there it is. In fact nearly three years ago one of our daughter-in-laws described me in a “frankly speaking” telephone conversation saying, “you are just rude.” This initially angered me, but recently the condemnation has come to be a strange truth or even blessing in its conviction. She may have meant it for harm, but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:21). This double dose of the Spirit’s chastisement has gone deep and I am taking very seriously the need to pray and meditate as well as seek godly counsel and accountability about these transgressions and change my lousy behaviors. I have asked and given several strong brothers in the Lord permission to admonish and counsel me if my behavior seems to be drifting into the ruff or into the woods of rudeness.
I am praying for wisdom from God and other godly people, meditating on God’s Word on the subject and praying as continuously as I can as I journey through this valley rich in opportunity to please God and other people. Or at least I hope to be more civil. Using a baseball metaphor, so far I have hit many foul balls, struck out, popped out and almost got a hit recently. Waiting on the Lord and quieting my Spirit is essential. Finding silence and solitude while in sacred and public space it essential. And I am journaling and writing on the issue therefore putting my word where I need my behavior to go too. This is part of the fruit of the Spirit of self-control, patience, kindness and gentleness along with peace. I guess it also includes love and being joyful and faithful in it all as I run along. That sounds pretty much like the whole fruit, against which there is not law and is highly encouraged. So time to quiet my soul and mouth before I head off to a Men’s Bible study where I usually talk a lot.
I realize that this valley time with God as my Guide also reminds me of the reason for the season, so I also need to rejoice and find peace in Messiah’s saving birth.
Each morning, slam the door on despair. If you don't, it will slip in and rob you.
And you'll soon find a peace missing.
And you'll soon find a peace missing.