“There’s never an excuse to be rude.” It’s a principle I regularly tell my kids. It’s true. It doesn’t matter how rough a day we’re having or what circumstances we’re in. It doesn’t even matter if someone has been rude to us. As believers, there’s never an excuse to be rude to someone else.
I wish I could say that I always follow my own advice, but this morning I did not. I got on the phone with a certain website company–who will remain nameless–and the guy on the phone was not very helpful. You know those times when it takes multiple menus and clicks to get somewhere–
“For customer service press ‘1’”
–I press “1” and it leads me to another menu.
“For a menu describing more menus, press ‘2’”
–I press “2” and it leads me to another menu.
“For a few more options that may lead to baldness due to pulling your own hair out while you listen to bad music, please press ‘3’”
After a long wait, I finally talk to a guy–let’s call him Jim. Jim tells me that he can’t help me. He gave a reason–I don’t think it was a good one–but he was insistent. I had the answers to the security questions. I had as much information as I thought he would need, but he wasn’t budging. He also wasn’t very nice.
And then I was rude.
“Great customer service!” I said sarcastically, and then I hung up on him. Immediately, I knew I had acted wrongly.
Here’s what I should have considered first: Jim’s probably not a bad guy. It’s probably not Jim’s fault that he has a protocol that he has to follow. Jim may have been responding exactly as his boss would want him to respond. Jim may have just gotten off the phone with another rude person. Yet my momentary frustration made me forget all of this perspective, and I took it out on Jim.
As Christians, we never have an excuse to be rude.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
The phrase “live at peace” is actually one word, and was used historically to describe a treaty or the conclusion of a conflict. Specifically, the word can apply to our emotions and describe the “absence of hostile feelings.” In other words, Paul is telling us to not only live in peace with everyone, but to also be at peace emotionally with every person and situation. This means that even in a situation where we do all we can to live at peace with others, yet the person insists on not being peaceful in return, we can still fulfill Paul’s command, and be at peace emotionally with the person and/or situation.
Basically, this means that by getting frustrated with Jim and taking it out on him, I failed to obey this verse on BOTH levels!
You see it takes intentionality to be at peace with everyone. I don’t naturally pursue peace. Instead, I naturally respond with frustration, and treat others unfavorably. I need God’s help to, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:14) Instead of letting the moment (or person) get under my skin, I should have stopped, breathed, considered the perspective I described above and asked God to help me respond intentionally in the way he would have for me to respond.
Jim- if you read this, I’m sorry for being rude.
For all the other people who read this and know that I’ve been rude to you at one point or another–I’m sorry.
God help me!