[Love] is not provoked. 1 Corinthians 13:5b
You’ve heard the expressions that suggest things one should never do: don’t poke the bear; don’t kick over the hornets’ nest; don’t tug on Superman’s cape; let sleeping dogs lie, and so on. The point of these warnings is this: There is danger in purposely provoking a person or situation—especially if the person or situation is known to be volatile.
Our goal is to be people who are not provoked to anger. The apostle Paul wrote, “[Love] is not provoked.” Other translations say that love “is not easily angered” (NIV) and love “doesn’t fly off the handle” (The Message). We could also say that love doesn’t have a short fuse. Love is able to endure a lot of insult, provocation, and hurt without reacting in anger. Love responds instead of reacting. And sometimes a response is necessary as when Jesus cleared the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-13) or Paul confronted Peter about his hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-14). But such anger is righteous, not sinful (Ephesians 4:26-27). True love is patient and forgiving and is not easily provoked.
If there are settings in which you might be provoked, ask God for grace to be prepared to demonstrate His love. Let your response be forgiving and graceful.
Temptation provokes me to look upward to God. John Bunyan