“Love is Not Angered”
1 Corinthians 13:5
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 3 Love is not provoked
1 Co. 13:5. We’ve reached the description of love, that it is not provoked. I am reminded of the little book of home photos that my wife put together for our family about this passage. And for love is not provoked Hudson is giving Haddie bunny ears, but Haddie is still smiling. Whereas she could of been provoked to anger over Hudson’s antics, she kept on smiling anyway.
As I consider that book, I am constantly reminded that anyone can take a small little snippet, like a picture, out of our lives and fake it for a little bit. We each get a picture of each other on Sunday morning and whenever we meet. You get a picture of me and I get a picture of you. But what if you took a picture of me at my house after a long day on a Tuesday when I come and the kids are all are swinging from the ceiling fan? What kind of picture would you get of me if I’m exhausted and someone is rubbing me the wrong way? Would that picture be that I’m provoked?
You’re welcome to ask my family … or tell us what you know about me! I asked my my family if I get annoyed. And Rosie said, “Yes, when we’re talking too loud at the table.” I said, “How do you know that I’m annoyed?” She said, “Because you tell us to be quiet.” I said, “Am I angry?” She said, “No, just a little annoyed.”
I’m convinced, love is where it’s all at. If you want a successful Christian life, love must be the focus of your life. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at doing church, it doesn’t matter how many life skills you have, how many talents you have … everything else pales in comparison to love.
In light of the fact that the Corinthians were divisive and exalting spiritual giftedness, Paul rebukes them with this love chapter.
Love’s two main responses are the first two in verse four, love is patient love is kind. Love tolerates people for a long time, not giving them anger… But that’s not all, love is actively kind and seeks to do good.
And then we have a series of descriptions that begin with “not.” From ‘not jealous‘ to the description in verse 5 that love ‘does not seek its own‘ … These refer to our initiations, our actions.
When I take initiative or the way that I present myself… These are my actions towards others that don’t take into account others’ actions toward me. If I have Christian love in my heart, I will not be jealous, I will not brag it, I will not be arrogant, I will not act shamefully but honourably, and I will not seek my own interests, but will look out for others primarily.
TRANS: But what happens when you bring other people into the mix and someone else takes an action first? That’s why you have the next three … that love is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.
The last two of verse 5 and all of verse 6 have to do with how love responds when other people take action first. They do that, will I be provoked? They do this, will I take into account a wrong suffered? Someone does something wrong, will I rejoice in that unrighteousness?
ILL: For example, how do you respond if you’re flying in a plane and you’re trying to get some sleep and so you have the window shade down, but the guy in front of you wants the shade up…so he reaches back and puts the shade up?
Hopefully, you don’t respond as two grown men did in this viral video. The one who wants it down pulls it down and then immediately the guy who wants it up pulls it up. “I want this down!” Phewt! “Are you serious?” Phewt! Up… Down… Up… Down. On and on for two minutes and finally the stewardess comes over and the video ends.
Why are you not surprised? This is human nature. Do you have any quirks? Of course you do! Me too! I can be annoying and I can provoke people; that’s not hard to admit! I guarantee I’ve said things that have … or could have … annoyed, hurt people, angered them, you name it! I’m sure I can be hard to get a long with sometimes. You could say “I’m annoying” with me b/c we all can be sometimes … “I am annoying.” It’s true!
So here’s what we’re talking about this morning… Love is not angered, but love has compassion and is at peace with others from the heart. REPEAT
What it is not
To properly understand what it is to “be provoked” we understand what it is not. We’re not talking this morning about righteous anger. We recognize that there are times when we are to be angry, Ephesians 4:26 says “be angry and sin not.” For example Paul in Acts 17:16 uses this very word “provoked” when he was observing idol worship in Athens. Jesus was angry on occasion during his earthly ministry, like when he cleanses the temple, and overturned the tables of the currency exchangers. There is room for temporary … don’t let the sun go down on your anger … righteous anger. But that’s not in view here.
But also when we talk about not being provoked, we’re not talking about failing to deal with sin. When there is sin or disobedience, like in the home, parents need to calmly and gently deal with that. And so we can’t say, “Well, I’m not going to be provoked today” and let the child continue in disobedience. Parents need to gently and wisely discipline their children for the glory of Christ.
A loving parent will properly discipline in the home, but love is not provoked.
What Provoked is
So this word “provoked” is talking about, in a more concrete fashion, is talking about being sharp.
For example in Proverbs 27:17 and other passages, it is used to describe the sharpening of metal. “Iron sharpens iron.”
And so figuratively, in Acts 15:39, the word refers to Paul and Barnabas having a “sharp” disagreement that resulted in their separating from one another.
So somebody who is provoked has a sharpness to their spirit. And let’s be clear this morning … we’re not talking about provoking other people to anger; what we’re talking about is being provoked.
Love does not go off on somebody. You couldn’t do certain things to a loving person so that they fly off the handle. Because of what somebody else does, a loving person will not be easily triggered or exasperated. You can’t rub the wrong way a loving person. There is nothing there to rub. You can’t drive them up the wall or get on their nerves or ruffle their feathers. They really don’t have any pet peeves. You can’t get under their skin; they are not annoyed or bugged, or irritated or bothered or disturbed… You can’t push their buttons … why? Because they have no buttons to push!
And I think sums the follow really sums it up quite nicely for us in modern terms… love does not take personal offense! REPEAT.
No personal offense should get me to raise my temper … or even move up 1 degree … no personal offense should cause me to lose control over my spirit, or should keep me from forgiving. Unfortunately, we’ve all sinned in that … but therein lies opportunity for growth!
ILL: I was informed recently that in my home we have 49 relationships. 7 people times 7 people is 49 …. 49 relationships. If you want plenty of opportunity to be provoked, just come on over to our house! We have quirks, passions and selfish desires and plenty of of opportunity for correction or people not listening to each other.
And the issue in all of it is: will I be angered, annoyed, or take offense?
APP: Do I have buttons that others could push to get me to react? What does it take for you to get provoked? When do you take offense or get irritated?
We can take offense and be upset for number of reasons … for example, when our pride is wounded (…that is, our “great” sense of self has been humbled) … or when we are frustrated (… that is, our plans got changed … that can make me upset) … or we can get upset when we are covetous (we want something too much or we can’t have it…), or when we are hurt (maybe someone was unkind).
We can get upset or offended because our pride is broken, our plans frustrated, we’re covetous, or we got hurt … I think my two biggest ones are when my pride is wounded or when I’m hurt. I do have buttons!
What about you? What if somebody is talking loudly or they criticize you? You are driving and they cut you off… The news, world events, or our political climate in Canada…
What happens when you don’t get your way or when others don’t do what you want them to do? When someone is incompetent and you or someone else makes a mistake?
What happens in your heart when others are slow to understand or they fail to appreciate or accept your point of view? Someone fails to respect you are to give you the attention that you want…
What happens when someone disagrees with you? Or they oppose your point of view?
ILL: Our culture today glamorizes the taking of offense. “You did this to me, I have a right to be provoked and to be upset with you.” Our culture is beginning to glamorize victimhood. But that hasn’t always been the case.
During the days of the old West, something today that we find terrifying was common… And that is dueling. You offend me, you dishonour me somehow, I don’t depend on others, I take matters in my own hands and we take up our pistols and have a duel, complete with 10 gallon hats and a rolling tumbleweed. That was an honor culture. When honor was offended, there was revenge. The honor culture.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, there has been a dignity culture. This is where an insult causes offense, but it is no longer that important to retaliate in order to show bravery. Instead, more peaceful actions were taken. Instead of a duel, the culture allowed for not talking to the offender or for reconciling and achieving harmony.
This is kind of the “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” kind of a culture. Brush it off, don’t make it a big deal.
And so over the centuries, the societal status of a victim has increased. In the old West, you need to redeem yourself from being a victim and fight for your honor. But today, in much of Western society, if you are a person of color, you get certain victimhood points. The victim today is exalted.
In our culture, if you have a biblically deviant sexual preference or a certain belief about your own gender or lack thereof, you can add more points. If you are a woman, you can add some points.
And you can enter into this point system even if you are a white evangelical heterosexual male, if you advocate strongly for those who are the more quote unquote marginalized people in society. Strongly advocate for them and you also score cultural points.
And our culture teaches these dear supposedly marginalized people that they have a right to be offended. And we’re all picking up on that, that we have a right to be provoked and a right to take offense… If you disagree with me if you say something slightly offensive… Our culture today teaches us that we have a right to be offended. In fact, I can get offended because I’m the victim here and I therefore have more points than you do.
Because of that we shut down a gracious debate and can’t civilly discuss differences of opinion. We are a people who are intolerant to insults…even unintentional insults, and we tend to let the offense be known to others or to the proper authorities.
And so people today have to walk on eggshells to make sure they don’t accidentally offend people, since they have a right to be angry. And that’s why on college campuses today you have safe spaces and trigger warnings, b/c you just might get offended since there might be ideas you disagree with.
And that is why we sue when we spill McDonald’s hot coffee on our laps and get burnt! We have a right to be offended and to tell on you!
It is clear that our culture is glamorizing the very opposite of this quality of love. Our culture justifies and glamorizes the taking of offense and of being provoked, of being intolerant of insults. Instead of turning the other cheek, we may not raise our pistol to shoot the offender, but we get a rise in our spirits and get offended even over unintentional insults.
But love is not provoked; granted, love doesn’t seek to provoke others either, of course, but the focus in this verse is that love is not provoked … it does not take offenses personally. Instead, it is compassionate, gentle, and diligently seeks peace with others.
TRANS: But imagine if a church is filled with people who are very quick to take offense. The damage that would cause!
EXP: If a church has people in it who are quick to take offense and are easily provoked, you will have what Proverbs 15:18 calls a hot tempered man who stirs up strife. There will be fights… Wars of words. And that war of words will result in disharmony and disunity and it can spread like wildfire.
Somebody who is angered, takes offenses personally, and has a multitude of buttons that can be pushed to make him angry and he retaliates in one way shape or form … he is one who “exalts folly” says Proverbs 14:29. He is a foolish man who finds himself in a fight … And as Proverbs 29:22 says he is one who will “abound in transgression.” There will be many other sins that accompany such a man who can be provoked.
Don’t be provoked to anger! Don’t be easily offended! Because you’ll be at the center of verbal conflict, you’ll be very foolish, and many other sins will go with you.
But part of the danger of being provoked is the devious and delightful sensation that you have the right to be upset.
ILL: I remember when my family lived in Edmonton that when someone would cut me off or make a very unsafe driving manuever, I would feel justified in saying out loud, “What an idiot!” I’d even say that in front of my wife and kids! At some point I realized that wasn’t good, and the Lord rooted that out of me. But I felt like I had a right to be upset!
When you feel like you have the right to be upset like that over different things, you can lick your wounds and smack your lips, say, over the grievances of the past. You turn over in your mouth the sweet morsel of bitter confrontation that is about to come and savor every last drop of the pain received and of the pain given… A feast fit for a king. Besides others, what you are wolfing down however, is your own self… You’ve eaten yourself to the bone. The skeleton at that feast is you.
All because of a lack of love.
But we can excuse ourselves and yet still believe we have a right to be upset. As somebody said, “Don’t worry, when I lose my temper, it’s all over in a few minutes.” Well so is a bomb! It leaves children intimidated, it creates bitterness in the hearts of subordinates, and it’ll create a culture of fear in a church … but love is not exasperated like that; it doesn’t take personal offenses.
So when you see someone’s sin or mistake, or where you’d normally take offense, don’t go rabbit hunting with a rocket launcher! Forget it! Have compassion, be gentle, and seek after, long for, and pursue peace…in your heart toward others.
You say, “Well, I’ve been easily offended my whole life! Any little thing and I could fly off the handle at any moment. That’s why all my relationships are broken.”
Okay, let me tell you some good news about this. It is true as Jesus says that anyone who is angry with another is guilty before the court. Whoever says to his brother “you good for nothing” is guilty before the Supreme Court and whoever says, “you fool!” is guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
After Jesus says that in Matthew 5:22, is there anyone in here who can say that he or she is righteous in themselves? Anyone by a raise of hand? No, we are all guilty before God and are deserving of that fiery hell.
And James says that if I offend in one point I am now a lawbreaker. I’ve broken the whole law of God. And unless God does something, I will go down in history for all eternity as a lawbreaker.
If you steal something from the store, it’s a worthless defense before the judge to say, “Well, it’s not like I murdered anyone!” You have broken the law!
It is the same of God. We are all divine lawbreakers. And Jesus Christ, knowing that we broke the law of God, came to shield us from the eternal wrath of God and to give us His peace.
There exists no good work that I could do that would ever make me righteous before a judge if I’ve stolen, “Well, judge, I gave someone some cookies once! Or even …. “I did that miracle, I exorcised that demon!” No, the judge will say you deserve your punishment. And in God’s court, it’s no different … except , except… and this is the big exception … the Judge of all the earth has also paid the entire punishment you deserve for all your sin on the cross. Big difference!
And now, by simply relying on Christ, trusting in Christ, clinging to Christ, I have eternal life by His grace alone. And that grace will teach me to live godly in Christ Jesus and will teach me to love and not take offense.
And so if you are going to grow in this aspect of love… And learn not to take personal offenses and not to be easily angered, like with any sin, you first need to be convicted.
Verses like Proverbs 18:6 “A fool’s lips bring strife, And his mouth calls for blows.” How many times have your lips brought you to shame b/c someone offended you? I grievously remember times when my lips have wounded others because I was wounded by others. You too? Is that a regular occurrence?
Confess that, regularly repent of that sin you struggle with. And now pursue the opposite… pursue the righteous behaviour to replace it…
Get the opposite
Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.”
Or get self control by studying verses like… Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”
Oh … get the glory of self control … wow, you’re better than the mighty warriors if you don’t fly off the handle or get personally offended when people wrong you.
And so follow …
Proverbs 12:16 A fool’s annoyance is known at once, but the prudent overlooks an insult.
Overlook the insult, if you are wise! That person’s action may have even been intentional…it may not have been…either way, the wise of heart know to overlook it. Someone said, “Swallowing angry words before you say them is better than having to eat them afterwards.” Overlook the transgression!
And have compassion on the offender. This is the example of Christ.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of 1 Corinthians 13.5 Part 3 Love is not provoked
See Christ’s example
When I’m personally hurt, I am not to be angered, seek vengeance, to hold a grudge, to be offended, or to tell others. Instead, I’m to be at peace with others, having compassion on them, being gentle with them. How? First, by being convicted of my lack of love and repenting of that. Second, by seeking to grow in self control and gentleness in His word.
And now third, I grow by looking at the example of Christ’s compassion. Turn to 1 Peter 2:21. If there was ever a man who had the right to take offense, it was Jesus. The King of the world and universe, could have lashed out against those subjects of His who were insubordinate.
But 1 Peter 2:21-24 tell us how he actually responded…
1 Peter 2:21–24 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled [… that means he was insulted …], He did not revile/insult in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
During Jesus earthly ministry, he was constantly challenged by the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were challenging Him, seeking to set a trap so that public opinion would shift against him, and …not to mention … they were seeking to kill him!
Jesus’ disciples abandon Him, the people He came to save disown Him and after many miracles of kindness and compassion, He’s arrested and during the night before his crucifixion at the trials, he suffered much at the hands of the Jews and Romans.
They find Him guilty of blasphemy and deserving of death. They spit in His face, beat Him with their fists, and slap Him.
Matthew 26:68 “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?”
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… but “while insulted, He did not give insults in return.”
…and as the sound of the beating reverberates in the chamber, we, as it were, hear the Lord’s teaching whispered …. “do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Mockings and beatings .. while suffering, He uttered no threats…
And then they crucified Him … with thieves, one the left, one on the right. And as they were driving the nails into His wrists, He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
No insults, no threats, only compassion … and on top of that, He (!)Himself(!) bore our sins in His body on that cross…His wounds …ironically … His wounds now heal us! There is a balm now in Gilead to save the sin sick soul…the blood of God’s Son soothes the soul and lightens ….yes, lifts off entirely the load of sin and gives us freedom and peace. Oh, the tender compassion and the patience of God!
And so …
Ephesians 4:31–32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and shouting and abusive speech be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
452 Oh, to Be Like Thee, stanza 2 and 3.
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Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, pg 2. ↑
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 133. ↑