Rev. Dr. Jaerock Lee 2007-12-09
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 13th session of the sermon series “Spiritual Love.”
Until the last session I talked to you about that love is patient and kind, as in 1 Corinthians 13:4
I talked to you that being jealous, boastful and arrogant is not love.
Today I want to share grace through the passage in the first half of 1 Corinthians 13:5 saying, “[Love] does not act unbecomingly.”
The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary refers to “unbecoming” as “not according with the standards appropriate to one’s position or condition of life.”
To our surprise, many people are unaware that they acted unbecomingly even after they acted rudely.
There is a greater tendency toward those who are close to them.
It is because when they feel comfortable with some people, they tend to act with rudeness or without proper etiquette.
They offend others’ feelings with unbecoming words and deeds and sometimes cause damages.
Even among those who believe in God and say that they love God, when we see their deeds and hear their words there are many who are so far away from loving God.
But if we have true love, we never act unbecomingly.
Suppose you have a very valuable and beautiful jewel. Then, will you treat it carelessly?
You will be so cautious and careful in handling it not to break, harm or lose it.
In the same way, if you really love someone, how preciously would you treat him?
After all, being rude is derived from the heart that has no love.
Today as I give you a few concrete examples of acting unbecomingly, hear what is said and then I want you to closely examine yourselves.
If you find something related to your life, I wish you could change it with a joyful heart.
I pray in the name of the Lord that many people will feel comfortable and joyful when others see you, as if they were meeting the Lord Himself!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
There are two situations of acting unbecomingly: rudeness before God and rudeness toward man.
First, let us talk about the rudeness before God
God is invisible to our eyes.
What do we have to do to see whether or not we have acted rudely before God?
We have to examine the kind of attitude we treat the matters in our relationship with God.
The matters of God refer to everything including worship services before God, prayers, praises, the church sanctuary, and holy things in it.
For example, drowsing off during the services is one of the main things that is being rude before God.
A worship services is offered before God.
Therefore, drowsing during the service is same as drowsing before God Himself.
It will be so rude to drowse before the president of a country or a CEO of a company.
Then, how much more rude would it be if we doze off before the Almighty God of hosts?
Or, suppose you are meeting your loved one, and you keep on dozing off in front of that person. Then, how offended that person would be!
He/she would have to doubt whether you really love him/her.
Other than dozing off, having personal conversations with people next to you during the service, or having irrelevant thoughts are also being rude.
Especially, in a place far away from the pulpit or in other sanctuaries than the main sanctuary where you attend the service through TV screen, you have to be even more cautious.
God looks at everybody, wherever you are.
Behavior like this tells us that the worshipper lacks of reverence for God and the fervor and effort (to act appropriately).
This is not just being rude before God but also before the preacher or the leader of the service.
For example, there is a believer who is talking with another person next to him, or he is having idle thoughts or dozing off, then, the preacher many wonder if the message is not gracious enough.
He may lose the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that he may not be able to preach with fullness of Spirit.
All these acts will eventually cause disadvantages to other brothers and sisters, and they are also rude acts.
It’s the same with leaving the sanctuary in the middle of the service.
Of course, there are some volunteers who have to go outside for their duties to help with the worship services.
However, except in really special cases, it is proper to move about only after the service has completely finished.
Some people think, “We can just listen to the message,” and leave just before the service is over, but this is being very rude.
I once explained to you about acceptable and pleasing worship practices in the Leviticus lectures.
In Leviticus 1:6, God commands Moses saying, “He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces.”
The burnt offering in the Old Testament is applicable to the worship service today.
When they gave burnt offerings, they had to cut the animals into pieces and then they burnt all the parts.
This in today’s sense means that we have to offer a proper and whole worship service from the beginning to the end according to a certain set of formalities and proceedings.
To worship God in this way, first of all, we should not be late to the service.
It is not proper to be late even in the case of there being appointments with other people, and how rude it is to be late (for an appointment) before God?
God is always waiting at the worship place to accept our worship.
Therefore, we should not just come immediately before the service begins.
It is proper manner to come earlier to pray in repentance and prepare for the service.
Also, we have to follow every order of the sequence in the worship service with all our heart, beginning with the silent prayer until we finish with the benediction or the Lord’s Prayer.
When we sing praises or pray, or even during the time of offering and announcement, we have to give all our heart.
Especially, prayer is the conversation with God.
Praising is not just a song but prayer with melody with which we give to God the aroma of our heart.
Therefore, not only when we offer a praise as a part of the service, but also in any kind of prayer meeting, praise and worship service, or in cell worship services, we have to offer it with all our heart.
For example, we have the ‘Daniel Prayer Meeting’ in our church.
If we come late without special reason, move around during the prayers without cause, or pray in meaningless repetition in drowsing and idle thoughts, these are all being rude before God.
Also, it is rude to tap on somebody or shake that person who is praying to stop his prayer.
Even while you are praying, just because somebody is calling you, if you open your eyes and stop praying right away, it is also rude.
Even between men, if somebody interrupts the conversation between two people or if somebody suddenly stops talking, it is not considered to be proper etiquette (good manners).
Therefore, when we are talking to God in prayer, we should be more careful. We first have to stop the prayer properly and talk to others.
Moreover, using cell phones during the worship service, leaving young children to run and play around during the worship service is acting unbecomingly.
It’s same with chewing gum or eating food during the worship service.
The appearance that you have for the worship is also important.
Normally, it is not proper to come to church wearing common street or house clothes or clothing intended for the workplace.
If you are to meet the president of the country, what kind of clothing would you wear?
You will probably put on the best clothes you have, in a very neat manner. Probably, most of you will put on the suit.
It’s because the attire is a way to express our reverence and respect to another person.
Children of God who truly believe in God know how precious God is. So, when they come to worship Him, they come in the cleanest attire they have.
Of course, there can be exceptions, for the Wednesday service or for the Friday All-night Service, many people come directly from their workplaces.
As they hurry up to come on time, they may come in their work clothes.
In this kind of case, God will not say they are rude but He will rather rejoice.
It’s because He receives the aroma of heart as they try to come on time to the worship service even when they are busy with their work. God looks at the inner heart of each person.
Therefore, I urge you that you will not judge other people just by looking at their appearances.
Let me tell you one more thing about worship services. It is acting unbecomingly before God to smoke and drink before coming to worship service. Even unbelievers think that it is proper courtesy not to smoke or drink when they attend church.
And as children of God, what should we do?
If you have been attending church for a considerable period of time, you should definitely cast away these old forms of life with faith.
Even if you are a new-believer, is it proper manner before God to try your best to cast away these old habits.
Brothers and sisters, God wants to have a fellowship of love with His children through worship and prayers.
Also, worship and prayer is our duty and obligation that we have to give to God as His children.
If we offer our worship and prayer in spirit and in truth, God gives us back blessings and rewards. He answers to our prayers more quickly. It’s because He receives the aroma of your heart with delight.
But if we accumulate unbecoming acts for a year, two years, and so on, we will make a wall of sin against God.
Even between a husband and a wife or between parents and children, if relationship without love continues, there will be many problems. It’s the same with God.
If we have a wall against God, we cannot be protected from diseases or accidents, and we may face various problems. We may not receive the answer to our prayers, even if we pray for a long time.
But if we have proper attitudes in worship and prayer, we can solve many kinds of problems.
I hope all of you will understand this fact very well. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” I pray in the name of the Lord that you will offer to God who is spirit all your worship, prayer, and praises in spirit and in truth.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to act unbecomingly in the sanctuary of God is also showing rudeness before God.
For example, we must not get angry and quarrel, or talk about worldly entertainments or businesses in the sanctuary.
It’s the same with carelessly handling the holy things of God in the church or to damage, break, or waste them.
The first part of Psalm 11:4 says, “The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven.” The temple, the church, is where God dwells.
In the Old Testament times, not just anybody could go into the holy place. Only the priests were able to enter.
Only once a year and only the high priest could enter into the most holy place inside the holy place (in the Holy of Holies).
Because it was a holy and set apart place, if a man with sin went in there, he was killed. But today, by the grace of our Lord, anybody can enter into the sanctuary and worship Him.
It’s because Jesus redeemed us from our sins with His blood, as said in Hebrews 10:19, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus.”
Even Jesus who gave us this kind of love did not allow disgracing the holy temple.
When He saw the people buying and selling in the temple, He rebuked them sternly and drove them away, saying in Matthew 21:13, “And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”
It was not in the temple building but only at the temple yard they were selling things to offer to God. But Jesus did not allow even this kind of act.
Here we can realize that the sanctuary does not only mean the place where we worship. It is every space within the boundaries that consists of the church, including the yard and all other facilities.
Therefore, wherever you are in the church, I hope you will be careful about even one little word and action you have to make it holy and perfect.
I also urge you to handle the holy things in the church with the same attitude.
Psalm 84:10 says, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
We can see in this confession the earnest love of King David and his truthful heart to live in the temple of God, even if he has to be a merely doorkeeper.
Likewise, the thicker the love for God we have, the more we long for the temple of God, and therefore, we will not act unbecomingly in the church. Therefore, I hope you will handle preciously anything that is related with God with all your best, just as you fact God Himself.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that, your loving relationship with God will become deeper and deeper.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, next, let us consider the cases of being rude to other people.
1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
As said, only when we do not act unbecomingly toward brothers and sisters, can God also believe our confession saying we love Him.
If we are rude to other people who are seen, how can we have proper attitude to invisible God in all matters? If we love God, we should never be rude to our brothers and sisters.
Then, what kinds of things are being rude to brothers and sisters?
Usually, if we seek our own benefit without thinking of the others’ positions, there will be many acts of rudeness committed.
We may cause discomfort in others’ hearts or cause financial damage or stress to the time constraints of others.
For example, when we talk on the phone, we also have etiquette to keep.
If we call at late night or talk on the phone for a long time with a person who is very busy, how much damage are we causing?
To be late to the appointments or suddenly visiting somebody’s house, are examples of discourteousness as well.
When we meet with our friends and neighbors and have fellowship with them, we also have etiquette and manners to follow. Is there anybody who thinks, “We are so close and isn’t it kind of too formal to think about all those things between us?”
You may have a really good relationship to understand all things about the other person. But it is still very difficult to understand the other’s heart 100%.
Therefore, we should check whether it is only our own opinion by thinking from the other’s point of view.
Especially, we should be careful not to act discourteously toward another person just because we are always with the person and we are very close.
If we show respect only in official occasions, it is only outward action.
But since we are so close to some people, we do not tend to care for them enough, and so we may just speak careless words or act carelessly hurting the feelings or offending those people.
We act rudely to family members or very close friends this way, and finally the relationship becomes strained and can become very bad. Also, some elderly people treat people of younger ages or those in lower positions unbecomingly. They speak language without respect, or they have commanding attitudes making others feel uncomfortable.
Especially, pastors and leaders should not speak language without respect or have commanding attitudes only because they are in leadership positions.
Also, it is very obvious that people in lower positions treat those in higher positions with respect.
Leviticus 19:32 says, “You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.”
But today, it is difficult to find people who whole heartedly serve with their parents, teachers, and elderly people, whom we should obviously serve.
Some may say the situations have changed, but the will of God is to do our whole duty even among men does not change. Furthermore, God’s children should keep the law and order of this world not to act unbecomingly. For example, if we cause commotion in public places, spit on the street, or violate the traffic laws, it is to acting unbecomingly towards many people.
We are living as God’s children in this world.
As Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” I pray in the name of the Lord that your life will be able to touch many other people.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, most people spend most of their time with other people, meeting and talking to them, eating with them, and working with them.
To that extent, there are many kinds of cultural etiquette in our every day lives such as in greetings, conversations, and in dining. But everyone has a different degree of education, and the cultures are different in different countries and among different races.
Then, what should be the standard in our manners? It is the law of love that is in your heart. the law of love refers to the law of God who is love itself.
Namely, to the extent that you imprint the word of God in your heart and practice it, we will have the attitudes of the Lord and not act unbecomingly.
Another meaning in the law of love is ‘caring’.
Being rude is caused, after all, by not caring for others, which is lack of love for others. Therefore, if we really love others we will always care for them so that we will not act unbecomingly towards them.
If you accomplish perfect love in your heart, you will fully follow this law of love.
Therefore, I hope you will quickly cultivate this perfect love in your heart so that you will treat everybody like we would do in the heavenly kingdom, as we would treat the Lord Himself.
By doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will be honored to the highest degree by God, by the angels in the heavenly kingdom, and by all people.