Oh, the provocation! The attacks can come from anywhere. And oh, how it can eat away at our soul!
What does provoke mean? It’s something that excites, irritates, instigates, or angers.
The Greek work for provoked means to sharpen alongside, to rouse to anger, to stimulate, to irritate, to exasperate, to incite someone by spurring their emotions, or to become emotionally provoked or upset, or roused to anger.
Therefore, love is not provoked nor does it provoke another.
The synonyms for provoke are harassment, taunting, insult, offense, indignity, injury, grievance, annoyance, distressing, disturbing, perturb, vex, upset, madden, grate, incense, infuriate, get on one’s nerves, bug, aggravate, irk, etc.
The big question, then, is this: When was the last time you were provoked? Who infuriated you? Who upset you? Who annoyed you? Who got on your nerves? Who offended you?
A spouse? A parent? A sibling? A child? A neighbor? A stranger? A friend?
And here’s another big question for you: When was the last time you provoked someone else?
If Paul says, “Love never fails,” (1 Cor. 13:8 NKJV) then how far off the path of love are we on a daily basis? All because we get upset with someone. Or we aggravate or irritate another.
Sometimes, it’s the little things, the little irritations, caused by those around us, that get to us the most, isn’t it? Like “the little foxes that spoil the vines.” (SOS 2:15 NKJV)
Oh, my! How lacking are we if love never fails? Defined, true-agape love never at all, not even at any time, fails, falls down, falls short, comes to an end, disappears, ceases, or perishes.
This real love will try its best not to offend or annoy others, will do all it can to not be irritated or irked by others. And guess, then, what comes into play here? Forgiveness!
Jesus told those attending the Sermon on the Mount, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6:14-15 NLT)
And He later told the disciples, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25 NLT)
If agape-true love of the Lord is our highest aim, then shouldn’t we be concerned if we are offending Him?
One of our most oft repeated prayers should be as David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Ps. 139:23-24 NLT)
May we always pursue love!