Greetings, friends! Welcome back for another segment in the How to Walk in Love, series, based on 1 Corinthians 13. You can find the other segments in this series by clicking here, but today we’re going to talk about how love is not provoked.
Some versions of the Bible also say “Love is not easily provoked”. Either way, the Word is clear that if we are truly walking in love, we will not allow ourselves to become provoked. What does “provoked” mean?
Provoke: to call forth, give rise to, to excite with anger, to annoy, exasperate.
Those of you with spouses and children may think that this command certainly can’t apply to you.
But it does. What does this mean for you?
It means that when your kids or your husband thoroughly tick you off, you need to keep your cool and not take offense.
It means that when your kid spills his milk for the umpteenth time that you need to remain calm.
It means that when your husband does things that are completely without regard for you or the children that you need to let it go. (Unless of course there are safety issues involved)
The best way I know of going about this is to remember that your loved one’s action is likely not rooted in gaining revenge toward you (and if it is, you may want to evaluate your behavior, past and present, toward them) but instead is rooted in some type of fear or hurt.
Then, remind yourself of your past offenses, both toward others and toward God. When you revisit them, you’ll find that God doesn’t react with wrath (we’re under a NEW covenant now), but instead, with grace and mercy. And He instructs us to do the same.
Allowing yourself to be provoked and react with anger instead of love may offer a short-term change or act of obedience, but long-term, you’re only teaching your loved one that the stronger, more rage-filled person wins the battle.
If you choose, instead of letting yourself be provoked, to respond with grace, mercy and love (this all done in truth, of course), you’re teaching your loved ones two valuable lessons:
1. You’re teaching them that, like the love of Christ, your love for them is unconditional and not performance-based.
2. You’re teaching them that they can trust you to love them, thereby spurring them on to behavior that wants to please.
I got a first-hand lesson in this several years ago. My husband’s childhood was littered with the anger and abuse of an alcoholic father, and therefore he’d never really learned or understood how to be a good husband. For years, he would act selfishly and angrily around me and the kids. However, once I learned this lesson of reacting with love toward his acts, instead of allowing myself to be provoked, his behavior changed. He became more calm, patient and loving. Today, he has a terrific relationship with me and with each of our children.
As we were discussing one day the transformations in our marriage, I asked him “What made you change?”
He said “It was when you started loving me with the love of Christ, instead of reacting to my bad behaviors in anger.”
You see, his behavior changed when I stopped allowing myself to become provoked.
Is it my responsibility to change his actions? Absolutely not.
But by doing my part (walking in love), I benefited our entire family. Now, isn’t that worth it?