Sunday, 08 November 2009 00:00

Love is Not Provoked

I Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)

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

This morning we come to one of the more practical helps in our study of I Corinthians 13. We are going to see a solution to those times when we feel utterly out of control—emotionally.

  1. Love doesn't allow another person to control our emotional reactions.
    The word translated provoke (paroxynomai) means "to make sharp, sharpen" as in stir up, or stimulate, stir up, irritate, provoke, arouse to anger, exasperate—any number of emotions. This verse is translated "is not easily provoked" (KJV0, "is not provoked" (NASB, NKJV), "is not irritable" ESV), "does not get upset with others" (NCV). It's used only 4 times in the New Testament. The other three texts describe provocations to (1). avoid, (2). to admire, (3). and to accept. Our text falls into the first category so let's look at the other verses to see how the word is used.
    1. There was such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another (Acts 15:39).
    2. While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols (Acts 17:16). Jesus feels this in the Temple.
    3. Let us provoke one another to love and to good works (Hebrews 10:24-25).
    What I hope to show is that when people get you bent out of shape you aren't loving them.
  2. Whenever we allow another to control our emotions, something is revealed in us.
    So what does it say when we are out of control? What is going on when we are yelling and screaming (or smoldering) at another? What is being revealed when we angrily and often abusively insult? It reveals quite a bit—not about the other person, but about you and me!
    1. A lack of knowing we are loved and enjoyed by our all-powerful Father above.
      Cain's anger with Abel illustrates Cain's out-of-kilter relationship with God (Genesis 4:15).
    2. A lack of contentment in the eternal and a longing for significance in the temporal.
      Joseph's brothers' anger over Joseph's coat illustrates their neediness (Genesis 37:4).
    3. A lack of strength to be a giver and a healer and a neediness that makes us takers.
      When the people rejected Saul in favor of David, Saul sought David's life (I Samuel 18:7).
  3. When our emotions are out of control, there is a way for us to get them under control.
    One of the points we have emphasized in our study is that "love" describes who a Christian is. Some may listen to the words of Paul and say, "Could I not be at all saved?" "Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14).
    1. Determine your most vulnerable point—the place where one can "push your button."
      "What is desired in a man is steadfast love" (Proverbs 19:22).
    2. Develop the habit of always turning to the steadfast love of God (Psalm 33:20- 22).
      "God will load your world with flowers. He hand-delivers a bouquet to your door every day. Open it! Take them! Then, when rejections come, you won't be left shortpetaled." (Max Lucado)
    3. Delight in knowing and understanding other people—focus on them, not you.
      "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit than he that takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32). The Lord heals all our diseases even our anger (Psalm 103:2). "Remember, you cannot keep people from rejecting you. But you can keep rejections from enraging you" (Max Lucado). Love never reacts in self-defense or retaliation.

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