Not Provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5)

[love …] does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong [suffered],

1 Corinthians 13:5

And the next item on my report card is whether or not I am provoked. The word seemed an odd choice to me, as provocation can be to many things. I can be provoked to both good and bad things, though our modern connotation is generally to bad things.

The word used can also mean to make sharp; to sharpen; to stimulate, spur, urge on; to scorn or despise; to provoke or make angry; to exasperate; to burn with anger. The only other place I found the word used is when Paul is strolling through Athens and his spirit is provoked because of all the idols. I think most of the possible meanings apply.

Love is not sharp in the sense of being ready to cut. I know that our modern concept of love is that it hurts — and it very well may — but Love Himself is not looking to injure or cause harm, but to do Good. Am I sharpened and ready to cut? If so, I am not much like Love.

Love is not spurred. God is not a beast of burden that we might drive Him on to some goal of our own devising. God is the One Who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. He spurs me to good works. I do not spur Him on to anything. Am I likewise unable to be spurred to things that I should not do or be?

Love is not scorned or despised. As I was driving in to work this morning (I am not yet clocked in), I found myself thinking that one of the ways in which I could grieve the Holy Spirit is to choose sin instead of obedience — obedience being the way in which He prompts me to go and in which He knows I will find the most Good. Do I scorn Love by disobeying Him when He leads me?

Love is not exasperated. I will never exasperate God — thank God for that — and I am called to be likewise inexasperatable. Am I? Or do I run out of patience and give in to annoyance, irritation, and anger all too soon?

I can say that I am doing moderately well in some ways — not frequently sharp and God is making progress in regard to my obedience — and failing miserably in others — I give in to my annoyance and frustration far too soon.

God, please work in me to cause me not to be provoked; sharpened and ready to cut; spurred to things I ought not; scorning You through my disobedience; or quickly succumbing to my irritation and anger. Please make me as You are, that You might be glorified.

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