Love Is Not Provoked

February 15, 2024

Love Is Not Provoked

“[Love] is not provoked”
1 Cor. 13:5 (NASB)

I’ve noticed that my wife and I have different buttons the kids push that irritate us. When her buttons are pushed, it’s easy to stay calm and feel alright. But when it’s my buttons, the irritation and anger swells through my body. Why is that? Why do her buttons not bother me so much, but mine feel like someone hit the launch button at NASA? The reason is found in self-regard. That is to say when our self-interest and respect is “dented, wounded, or punctured by some sharp point [,]”1 it irritates and angers us into a response of wrath. Thus the struggle lies in how the action is affecting our self-interest and self-respect (you could say pride).

But Scripture teaches us that love “is not provoked.” It is not easily irritated or “carried away (in anger).”2 Love feels the irritating wave, is not swept away in anger, and concentrates on giving for the good of the other person. Your child may be provoking you with disobedience and disrespect, but love doesn’t launch into anger; rather, love reflects on what my child needs right now. Think about sports referees. They have to remain calm while enduring the profanity of fans, the attitudes of players, and nose to nose discussions with coaches. If they cannot handle this, sports games would be a mess. If we cannot handle personal provoking, life will be a mess.

A family member, coworker, or friend may be provoking you. What ought I do to? Set aside your personal regard for a moment and ask what it is that they need. Don’t get swept up into their emotions no matter how much it hurts your self-respect. Seek to give love. At some point further action may be required, such as a sports referee dealing with an unruly player. But let us be patient and loving in getting there.

Love is a wonderful gift from God that we need His grace to grow in daily. As He grows you, remember that love does not get so bound up in itself that it is swept away into anger by another.


1. What actions from others provokes you the most? Examples: Being talked over, ignored, mimicked, called names, lied to.

2. How is your answer to #1 a reflection of your own self-interest?

3. What thought from this devotional would be most helpful to hide in your heart for later?

1Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 1052. Thiselton states, “The English pique combines the same range of nuances as the Greek: something between irritation and anger which takes offense because one’s self-regard has been dented, wounded, or punctured by some sharp point.”

2Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990–), 43.