Rudeness and unkind behavior are rampant in our culture today. Social media, reality television, and other influences often promote and glorify cruel words and actions. As Christians, we are called to live by a higher standard. The Bible provides clear guidance on how we should treat others and warns against rudeness and unkindness. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore what the Bible says about being rude and how we can pursue kindness and courtesy instead.
The Bible has a lot to say about how we interact with and treat others. Rudeness, insults, and unkind words are directly opposed to the Christian ethic of love. Jesus himself provided the greatest example of living in loving kindness. As followers of Christ, we are instructed to emulate His compassionate care for others.
Rudeness takes many forms, from careless words, gossip, and insults to purposefully putting others down. The book of Proverbs warns that “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). Our speech has power, and we are called to build others up, not tear them down with criticism and thoughtless responses.
Here are three key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about rudeness:
- Rudeness is rooted in pride and self-importance, which the Bible consistently warns against
- Christians are instructed to season our speech with grace and build others up with our words
- We reap what we sow – rude behavior often elicits rudeness in return
In the rest of this post, we will unpack what the Bible says about the dangers of rudeness, how to overcome it with kindness, and pursue speech that gives grace to others.
Rudeness is rooted in pride
Many times, rude behavior stems from pride. We insult others to exalt ourselves. The book of Proverbs says arrogance leads to contention and rudeness tears others down.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10)
“Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler!” (Proverbs 17:7)
Rudeness elevates our ego at the expense of others. Scripture exhorts us to humble ourselves, value others above ourselves, and refrain from contention and quarreling. The Bible warns that pride leads to disgrace and destruction.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
We are called to watch both our words and our motives. Pride has no place in the Christian life. When we are tempted to put others down, we must remember how valued they are in the eyes of God.
Christians are called to season speech with grace
The Bible provides clear guidance on how we should speak to and about others. We are instructed to build others up with our words and avoid insults or criticism.
Ephesians 4:29 shares this powerful command:
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Our speech should impart grace, not be filled with coarse language or demeaning words. The book of Proverbs tells us:
“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (Proverbs 15:2)
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:21)
As Christians, we are called to carefully choose our words and avoid harsh, critical, or unreasonable speech. The fruits of the Spirit include kindness and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). Our speech should reflect the transforming work of the Spirit in our lives.
Colossians 4:5-6 exhorts:
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Grace, not rudeness, should mark our speech. We can disagree or share critique gently and thoughtfully, not resorting to insults or arrogance. God cares deeply how we speak to others, who bear His image.
Rudeness elicits more rudeness
There is a clear cause and effect present in our relationships. Responding to others with rudeness, insults, and criticism tends to elicit the same poor treatment in return. The Bible warns we reap what we sow in how we interact with others.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
If we want consideration and kindness from others, we must first model it in our own behavior. The golden rule, given by Jesus in Luke 6:31, provides an excellent guideline:
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Treating others with respect and gentleness, as we wish to be treated, can prevent cycles of rudeness. The Apostle Paul implores in Ephesians 4:32:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
As Christians, we are called to break cycles of unkindness with grace and patience. Refusing to retaliate against rude behavior is a biblical model that can defuse conflict and prompt introspection. We reap what we sow, let us sow graciousness.
How to Overcome Rudeness
Now that we have explored the Bible’s view on rudeness, how can we overcome our own unkind speech and pursue grace-filled communication instead? Here are four tips:
1. Examine your heart
The Bible tells us to guard our hearts, for they determine the course of our lives (Proverbs 4:23). Take time for self-reflection and prayer, asking God to reveal any pride or insecurity driving rude speech. Nip unkindness in the bud by repenting of any arrogance or resentment in your heart.
2. Think before speaking
We are instructed to be quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19). Ask God for wisdom in conversations and take care with responses. Run possible replies through “filters” – is it true, kind, necessary? Short pauses can prevent hasty, reactive comments.
3. Speak grace over others
The old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is wise advice. But we can go further than just remaining silent – replace insults or criticism with encouragement. Affirm people’s strengths and speak blessings over them.
4. Repent and reconcile quickly
When we do speak rudely or in anger, take responsibility. Don’t let pride prevent apologies. Seek forgiveness from both God and those you insulted. Demonstrate humility and pursue restored relationships.
The Bible Commands Us to Pursue Kindness
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that Christians are called to kindness, compassion, and building others up with our words. This stands in direct opposition to rudeness in all its forms.
Romans 12:10 shares a powerful principle on honoring others above ourselves:
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
This humility and mutual care is key to overcoming rudeness. When we esteem others highly, rude responses have no place.
Ephesians 4:15 provides an excellent summary of the biblical call to gracious speech:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”
May we speak the truth, but always gently, motivated by love. As Christians, we represent Christ with our words. It is imperative that our speech reflects His grace, patience, and wisdom. Scripture gives clear guidance on avoiding pride, nourishing kindness, and seasoning our words with salt. Our language should build others up, not tear them down.
The Bible has strong warnings against rudeness, harsh insults, and careless speech. As Christians, we are called to value humility over arrogance and to season our responses with grace. Though culture may promote cruelty, we follow a higher standard rooted in the ethics of Christ.
With God’s help, we can overcome our own tendencies towards rudeness. The Holy Spirit enables us to purify our hearts, think before responding, and speak words that reflect the wisdom and compassion of Jesus. As we sow kindness, we will reap joyful peace in our relationships. Rudeness churns up bitterness, but compassion calms conflict.
May our lives yield the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This includes our speech. Let us prayerfully watch both our words and our hearts, pursuing speech seasoned with salt and overflowing with grace.