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Charity… Is Not Easily Provoked

Victor M. Eskew




A.   Introduction:  Parking space war

1.    An older lady was waiting to get into a parking spot with her Cadillac.

2.    A teenager pulled into the spot before she did.

3.    He got out of his car, and said:  “Oh to be young and fast.”

4.    She immediately began to ram his car over and over with her Cadillac.

5.    She got out, and said:  “Oh to be old and rich.”


B.   Almost all of us have had our bouts with anger manifested toward others.


C.   The characteristic of love in this lesson deals with our anger (I Cor. 13:5).


…is not easily provoked…


D.   Again, we will to three things in this lesson.

1.    Define the characteristic

2.    Look at some Bible examples of this aspect of love

3.    Make application of this quality to our lives.




A.   Strong (3947):  to exasperate


B.   Thayer:  to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger, make angry, to exasperate, to burn with anger.


C.   Barnes:

1.    “Here it means evidently to rouse to anger, to excite to indignation or wrath” (e-sword).

2.    “The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion is not ‘prone’ to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate.  He is calm, serious, patient.  He looks soberly at things; and although he might be injured, yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings” (e-sword).


D.   Versions

1.    KJV:  is not easily provoked

2.    AVS:  is not provoked

3.    NKJV:  is not provoked

4.    NASV:  is not provoked

5.    ESV:  is not irritable

6.    NIV:  is not easily angered

7.    RSV:  is not irritable

8.    Phillips:  it is not touchy

9.    Message:  doesn’t fly off the handle


E.   Another person said that it can be translated:  “Love is not bad tempered.”


F.   The word “easily” is not in the original.

1.    Note that the ASV, NKJV, and the NASV all just read:  “is not provoked.”

2.    Easily is superfluous, and gives the wrong coloring to the statement, which is absolute:  is not provoked or exasperated” (e-sword, Vincent).

3.    It was added when the KJV was translated.  Many believe the king who authorized the translation, James 1, was easily angered.  Thus, the translators put this in for him.

4.    Some controversy over the definition:

a.    “If love is provoked at all; it then ceases to be love…” (e-sword, Clarke).  Here, any expression of anger would be considered not loving.

b.    “It does not say love never gets angry.  It says love does not get angry very easily.  In other words, a loving person can be provoked to anger, but not without significant effort” (Parrott, 55).

5.    “Not easily provoked” can be sustained by other teachings of God’s Word.

a.    The Bible says that God is slow to anger (Ps. 103:8).


The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.


b.    The Bible teaches that we must be slow to anger (James 1:19).


Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.


c.    Jesus, loved, but also demonstrated anger when He was about to heal the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:5).


And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved, for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand.  And he stretched it out:  and his hand was restored whole as the other.


d.    We could also discuss the difference between righteous indignation and irritability.




A.   We have already mentioned the fact that God is not easily angered (Neh. 9:17; Ps. 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nah. 1:3).


The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:  the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.


B.   The contrast between the father and the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

1.    The father upon his son’s return (Luke 15:22-24).


But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.


2.    The elder brother (Luke 15:25-28a).


Now his elder son was in the field:  and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.  And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.  And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.  And he was angry, and would not go in…

C.   Two examples of those who were soon angry.

1.    Moses with the children of Israel (Num. 20:10-13; Ps. 106:32-33)


They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:  because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.


2.    David against Nabal (I Sam. 25:12-13).




A.   “Too often it is the vice of the virtuous” (Scroggie, 28).

1.    We do well in other areas of Christian living, but not this one.

2.    We fail because we have rationalized and justified our behavior.

a.    He caused me to…

b.    It is “who” I am.  It is my personality.

c.    He deserved it.

d.    What else was I supposed to do?


B.   “It is generally self-centered people who are touchy and easily exasperated (Scroggie, 28).

1.    It is interesting that this quality follows on the heels of the quality, “seeketh not her own.”

2.    Self wants its own way and gets angry when it does not get it.


C.   Love does not have a short fuse, but has a long fuse.


D.   “A loving person cannot be goaded into the sharp retort of irritation” (www.faithlafayette.org, “Love Is Not Easily Provoked”).


E.   Love is about anger management.

1.    Two verses:

a.    Proverbs 14:29


He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding:  but he that is hasty of spirit exaleth folly.


b.    Proverbs 15:18


A wrathful man stirreth up strife:  but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.


2.    Aristotle:  “Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy” (as quoted by Parrott, 56).

3.    Ways to not be easily provoked.

a.    Know the things that provoke you.

b.    Learn from your mistakes in the past and practice self-control.

c.    Do not make a lot of rules for others.

d.    Consider that God has been slow to anger with you.

e.    Overlook as many offences as possible.

f.     Remember the bounty of Christ’s blessings.

g.    Wait to say or do anything in anger.  When angry count to 10.  When very angry count to 100.  Wonderful words of advice from Thomas Jefferson.





A.   “Love puts the brakes on anger, slowing it down for the sake of the one loved” (www.gotquestions.org, “What does it mean that love is not easily provoked (I Corinthians 13:5)?”).


B.   “The effect of religion is nowhere else more striking and apparent than in changing a temper naturally quick, excitable, and irritable, to one that is calm, gentle, and subdued” (e-sword, Barnes).