One of the phrases that has become more popular recently is, “That was inappropriate.” It is used to describe actions or words that were not acceptable, or at least not acceptable in the time they were shared. We live in a post-modern time. One of the things we have lost in our culture is appropriateness, or propriety… this sense that some things are right and should be done, and other things are wrong and should not be done.
Back in the day, it was very unusual to find people acting improperly. Our grandparents were raised to act properly. There was a time when it was a shame to be inappropriate. Today, it may get you a TV show. When our culture believed in absolutes, we acted in such a way that was in keeping with what is right. Men acted like men, because that is proper. Women acted like women because that is what is proper and right. Today, men act like women, and women act like men. That is not proper. It is not right. Kids say curse words and adults laugh. People talk about sexual and other private things in public. This is inappropriate.
One of the things that causes us to act right is loving like we are supposed to love. The apostle Paul, when describing true love to early Christians wrote, “Love does not act improperly.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) An older version says, “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.” Basically in the Greek, it means that love acts like it is supposed to. We want to be free spirits. We want to at however we want and everyone just accept that. We want to be inappropriate at times without having anyone judge us by a general standard. But love doesn’t act that way.
I cannot be loving and inappropriate at the same time. You cannot cast off the standards of good behavior and love people at the same time. Some things are proper, and some things are not. When you tell an off-color joke, you are not showing love. You have cast aside love when you do something that crosses a line of acceptable behavior. You may not like it that there is a standard of acceptable behavior. Get in the growing line. Most people these days don’t. But there are standards for a reason.
The common standards of decency and appropriateness are in place to protect people. They are boundaries that help to provide a pleasant and safe living environment. Some people avoid improper activities because they don’t want to get in trouble. Others do the proper thing because they love other people enough to not trespass over their sense of decency. We live in an ‘anything goes’ society. The problem is that we don’t live in an ‘anything goes’ universe. There are consequences for acting in an unseemly fashion. It hurts others, and it hurts the one misbehaving.
Today you will have the choice to act in love or to show disregard for the reasonable expectations of others. You will have to choose between behaving or misbehaving, between acting properly and acting improperly, between being appropriate and being inappropriate, between saying things that are unbecoming a Christian and saying things that reflect a Christian standard. Let love rule and live like you are supposed to.
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.