Love is Not Exasperated

According to 1 Corinthians 13:5, one of the characteristics that demonstrates the force and nature of true, biblical love is that it “is not easily provoked” (KJV). Other translations of this verse inform us that love is not touchy, irritable, fretful, resentful, angered, or annoyed. In a word, love is never exasperated. This phrase illustrates the proper attitude that Christians should have towards others when we are filled with God’s love. However, it is also easy to practically apply this lesson of love to marriages – the most important of human relationships according to God’s Word.

The original Greek word rendered in the King James Version as “provoked” is rare in the New Testament, appearing only one other time in a different context. The term literally means “to make sharp or to sharpen”. Figuratively, it means to bring to a state of exasperation. In other words, those who love do not excite others to anger or cause them to be enraged. And, those who love also are not excited to anger or enraged at the words or actions of others.

Technically, the word “easily” (or “quickly”, etc. as per other translations) does not appear in the original language of the New Testament. Inclusion of this word is an unfortunate tradition of unknown origin. The earliest English translation of the Bible simply stated that love “is not stirred to wrath”. Similarly, many contemporary translations have dropped the word “easily” in favor of a more literal and accurate translation. Indeed, those who embody true love should never be exasperated or enraged with another – easily or otherwise.

Simply put, it should not be a part of the Christian’s makeup and character to be hasty, excited or passionate with respect to anger. Rather, we are to be peaceful, calm and patient. True love, in the biblical sense, causes one to govern the temper, restrain emotions, and subdue feelings. One of the true tests of love is its ability to transform a naturally quick, excitable and irritable temperament into one that is calm, gentle, and subdued.

To this point you may be left with the impression that love should not provoke in the sense of wrath, indignation, or violent anger. This is true. But, the meaning of the verse in question also has a much more subtle and general application. To exasperate also means to cause irritation or annoyance. In other words, those who love do not irritate or annoy others as a means of provoking them to become angry. And, those who love are not irritated or annoyed by others – even when they are being consciously impelled.

The implications for this lesson as it pertains to Christian marriages should be rather straightforward and obvious.

If you truly love your spouse in the biblical sense you will never attempt to annoy or irritate him/her. You will also not be annoyed or irritated by the things you mate says or does. This type of manipulation and means of control has no place in a Christian marriage. You should not incite your spouse to anger or allow yourself to be provoked in this manner.

You are not free from disagreements, arguments and conflicts with your partner merely because you are a Christian. But, you do have the capacity to react differently and handle situations more gracefully. If you are filled with God’s Spirit, you will exercise temperance or self-control over your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Instead of escalating difficult circumstances, you will remain calm, cool, and collected and not allow situations get out of hand. In no case should Christians ever find themselves in a place where they are indignant, scornful, enraged, or stirred with wrath towards their mate.

Exasperation cannot exist in a relationship where love reigns. It should be difficult to be angry with a partner whom you love. Likewise, it should be very easy to forfeit resentments and be reconciled with your mate when your love is true and real.

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