I Corinthians 13:5b, “…charity [love] is not easily provoked …”
Let’s first define PROVOKE:
1. To incite to anger or resentment.
2. To stir to action or feeling.
3. To give rise to; evoke
4. To bring about deliberately; induce
So, if love is NOT easily provoked, it is NOT incited to anger or resentment; it is NOT stirred to action or feeling; it does NOT give rise to or evoke [negative emotions or anger?]; it does NOT bring about deliberately or induce [a fight!?].
Martha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife, says that this requires SELF CONTROL in difficult circumstances. She goes on to say, “The sad fact is that wives are sometimes irritated and provoked even when the circumstances are not especially difficult.” I’d have to say I’m guilty of that. For the most part, I have a pretty normal, easy life; the things that incite my anger are actually pretty minor compared to what a lot of people go through. I have a stable marriage; I have enough money to cover my bills; no one in my immediate family is currently facing a major illness or disease; my children are doing well in school. AND YET, I find things that provoke me to anger – like my family not being as neat as I’d like them to be, not having money to buy or do those extra things I’d like to have/do, or my daily schedule being interrupted. As Martha Peace suggests, I need to work on responding to things that provoke me with kindness and patience.
Matthew Henry – in his commentary – puts it this way: “[Love] is not exasperated.” As much as I sigh and roll my eyes during a day, I know I easily get frustrated and EXASPERATED about all kinds of little things. Matthew Henry beautifully says, “Where the fire of love is kept in, the flames of wrath will not easily kindle, nor long keep burning. Anger cannot rest in the bosom where love reigns.”