1 Corinthians 13:5

Sermon preached on February 7, 2016 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

When I was in seminary I got a job as a policeman with the Canadian National Railway in Canada. On my first day on the job that summer I got called into one of the bosses office and he told me that he wanted me to deliver a gun, a revolver, to an office in a building nearby and then come back to his office. It was another police office so I took the gun over there and handed it to the officer I was supposed to deliver it to. He thanked me and I went back to my boss' office. As soon as I got there he asked me where the other gun was. I asked him, "What other gun." He informed me that he had told me that in addition to dropping off the gun, I was supposed to pick up a gun there and bring it back to him. But he hadn't told me that. When I politely told him that I didn't recall him telling me that he flew into a rage and started yelling at me and berating me and told me to go back and get the gun I was supposed to get. I was shocked. But since he was my boss I did what he told me to. As soon as I left his office and shut the door one of the officers outside came up to me and told me not to let it bother me and said something to the effect that he did that to all the new guys. That helped and when I got to the office to get the gun, the officer there said the same thing. He actually he felt really bad in that the boss has used him in setting me up. That boss had a need to put others down and build himself up. It led him to being very rude.

Today we come to verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 13. It tells us that

love is not rude.

I usually think of rudeness as being related to speech or minor infractions of etiquette. Someone is rude to you when they say something that's not kind or mildly offensive. They are also rude if they cut in front of you when you're waiting in line.

But that's only part of what our text has in view. Although the NIV and the ESV translate our text as love "is not rude"—other translations render it differently. The HCSB says that love,

"does not act improperly",

the NASB renders it,

"does not act unbecomingly",

the KJV says that love,

"Doth not behave itself unseemly,".

So we have a variety of translations. If you look up the Greek word Paul uses here in a Greek lexicon you'll find that it gives the meaning as, ("ἀσχημονέω," BDAG, 147)

"behave disgracefully, dishonorably, indecently"

The noun of the same root sometimes refers to ("ἀσχημοσύνη," BDAG, 147)

"behavior that elicits disgrace, shameless deed"


"someth. considered too private for public exposure,"

Another means,

"appearance that deviates from a standard, unbecoming appearance,"

In this day and age we shouldn't really use the world's norms as our standard of indecency. They have to be measured by God's Word. Paul uses the noun of the same root in Romans 1:27 in a list of great sins. The adjective of the same root refers to something, ("ἀσχήμων," BDAG, 147)

"that is not openly done, displayed, or discussed in reserved society because it is considered 'shameful, unpresentable, indecent', or 'unmentionable',"

David E. Garland suggests that part of what is behind Paul's word here may be, (1 Corinthians, BECNT; p. 618)

"an allusion to the gross impropriety of the man living with his father's wife (5:1–2)."

The end result of all this is that our text can refer to something that is mildly inappropriate and has a range that includes a man who keeps postponing his wedding and is thus acting inappropriately toward his betrothed—all the way up to inappropriate behavior that is grossly indecent, shameful. Charles Hodge explains our text this way, love, (1 Corinthians, p. 270)

"does nothing of which one ought to be ashamed. It's whole deportment is decorous and becoming."

But included in all this is the ideas of doing what is best for the person that is loved. Love does not dishonor them.

Now let's get to some applications. What does this mean for us?

The fact that love does not behave disgracefully means that

if you see disgraceful behavior in someone, and you see them trying to justify it by saying that the reason is love, you know that that's not true.

In our society today many disgraceful things are done in the name of love.

For example, you'll see a young couple who is not married living together as if they were married and they're doing it in the name of love. They will say,

"We love each other."

No. Having unauthorized sex is called fornication in the Bible. It's scandalous behavior.

It's the same with adultery. I've heard people attempt to justify adultery by saying that they've found their soul mate and they're in love. A man has left his wife and children and gone off this this other woman and he's doing it in the name of love. He said he had to do it because,

"I love her."


The only other place in the New Testament where this verb is used is 1 Corinthians 7:36 where its translated 'improperly' by the NIV. Paul wrote,

"If anyone thinks he is
acting improperly toward the virgin
he is engaged to,
and if she is getting along in years
and he feels he ought to marry,
he should do as he wants.
He is not sinning.
They should get married."

The background there has Paul warning about the disadvantages of marriage because of "the present crisis". Paul says that if a man has come to the conclusion that he is being unfair to his fiancée by continually postponing their wedding, he does nothing wrong in going through with the marriage. The NIDNTTE says, (1:436)

"Thus the vb. here… [indicates] an action (or lack thereof) that is not in the best interests of another person."

The 2011 version of the NIV translation of our text reflects this understand. It says that love

"does not dishonor others".

That is an essential ingredient in love. It does what is in the best interests of the other person. Love does not harm another person. Loves seeks their good. This is evident from what Jesus His disciples in Matthew 5:43–45. He said,

"You have heard that it was said,
'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you:
Love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be sons
of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise
on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous
and the unrighteous."

The man envisioned was continually postponing his wedding, he was acting inappropriately, not in the best interests of his betrothed. Love does not act against the best interests of others. One of the things that sexual sins do, if they are not repented of—is put people in hell. Proverbs 7 tells of the adulteress who comes out to seduce a man. She tells him that her husband is not home, that he has gone on a long journey. We read, (Proverbs 7:21–27)

"With persuasive words
she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.
Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
Many are the victims
she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death."

If someone is committing a sexual sin with someone love is not involved. There is lust there, but not love. How can you love someone when your actions are pushing them over the brink into hell? That's not love. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 says,

"Do you not know that the wicked
will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived:
Neither the sexually immoral
nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor male prostitutes
nor homosexual offenders
nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards
nor slanderers nor swindlers
will inherit the kingdom of God."

It's the same thing with same sex marriage and homosexuality. People talk about love. But if their actions are tending to the destruction of the other person, (and they are) then it's not love.

Another example is euthanasia. They say that it's done in the name of mercy, in the name of love, that it's done to end suffering. I have no doubt that when they say that they're sincere. And we also have to be sensitive to suffering. Suffering is often a very terrible thing. But so often ending the suffering of someone in this life only ushers them into a suffering that is much worse, much longer, and absolutely hopeless. People who are suffering need Christ. They need to be told about Him and how they can have eternal life because of His work.

But even if it's a Christian who is suffering, whose death would usher them into the Lord's presence and glory—we have no right to kill them or help them kill themselves. One of the commandments is, (Deuteronomy 5:17

"You shall not murder."

That doesn't mean that even though it's not okay to kill someone who is not suffering that it's okay to kill someone who is suffering.

Remember the Amalekite who killed King Saul? He came to David and told him what happened. He said that he was on Mount Gilboa in the midst of the battle. He saw Saul leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost on him. Saul called out to him and asked him to kill him. He said, (2 Samuel 1:9)

'Stand over me and kill me!
I am in the throes of death,
but I'm still alive."

The Amalekite continued,

"So I stood over him and killed him,
because I knew that after he had fallen
he could not survive.
And I took the crown that was
on his head and the band on his arm and
have brought them here to my lord."

David asked the man, (2 Samuel 1:14)

"Why were you not afraid
to lift your hand to destroy
the LORD'S anointed?"

We read,

"Then David called one of his men
and said,
'Go, strike him down!'
So he struck him down,
and he died.
For David had said to him,
'Your blood be on your own head.
Your own mouth testified against you
when you said,
'I killed the LORD'S anointed.' "

David had the man executed. The man could have claimed it was a mercy killing that he saved Saul from undo suffering. He could have claimed that he did it to prevent the Philistines from making sport of Saul while he was still alive. 1 Chronicles 10:4 tells us that when the fighting grew fierce around Saul he said to his armor-bearer,

"Draw your sword and run me through,
or these uncircumcised fellows
will come and abuse me."

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.

But no excuse the Amalekite could have offered would have sufficed. He was not allowed to kill Saul, even though Saul asked him to and even though Saul was in the throes of death.

Secondly, this means that

the end doesn't justify the means.

Many people claim that the end justifies the means. They claim to love God and want to see His kingdom come into being—but they do despicable things in an attempt to get to that end.

All such behavior is wrong. Love to God does not have as its fruit disgraceful behavior. No. No. Our text tells us that love does not,

"behave disgracefully, dishonorably, indecently"

The end never justifies the means. If love is the great end, love for God and love for men—then the means must also be in accord with love.

Thirdly, this means that

you need to examine your life to see if there is any inappropriate or unseemly behavior.

Are you acting inappropriately toward anyone else? That's not in line with love. Are you engaged in any unbecoming behavior—porn, flirting, inappropriate suggestions, etc. You need to stop. None of that is showing love to your family. Cleon L. Rogers Jr. and Cleon L. Rogers III tell us, (The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament)

"Love is tactful and does nothing that would raise a blush."

Are you treating someone in a way that is not in their best interest? Christians often hurt others. This is all something we should seek to apply because it's against our natural instinct. We naturally treat other people in a way that is in our best interest, not theirs. Selfishness is so engrained in us that we have to recognize it and fight against it.

Fourthly, consider the love that saved us.

God thought of our interests. Jesus came to this earth. He came like a lamb to the slaughter. Everything He did was appropriate. He warned those who were stubbornly attached to their sin. He told them to repent. He was kind to those who were downcast. He was merciful to those who hurt him. He healed Malchus' ear when Peter cut it off. He asked the Father to forgive those who nailed him to the cross. He accepted the criminal on the cross who asked Him to remember him.

Fifthly, if you're not a Christian,

you need to see the beauty of Christ's love.

He loves sinners. He loves you. He offers you life. Go to Him and instead of the hate, greed, selfishness of this world—you'll find something that is so much better—love that is kind, love that is not rude, love that will never let you go. Go to Jesus now.