Hi, this is pastor Ken and I want to welcome you to my Monday Marriage message. We continue this week with the valuable endeavor of defining each of the characteristics of Love according to 1 Corinthians 13. Last week we found that Love does not seek its own. This week we will consider the next two attributes listed in verse 5 because they pair together in their meaning and application. Our focus today will be that Love is not easily provoked, and love thinks no evil.

If we were to look at these two characteristics of Agape love independently, our understanding of what the scripture is trying to tell us could be altered. Instead, if we join them and view them as a cohesive descriptor of love, we will be much closer to the intent of the original text.

The dictionary defines the word provoked as “to incite anger” or “to stir up a feeling or action.”  The phrase “thinks no evil” means that love does not consider evil to be the motive behind words spoken or action taken by another. Evil is defined by the dictionary as morally reprehensible, sinful, or wicked, and as arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct.

The original Greek text is helpful as it adds additional connotation to the ideas being expressed. The word we translate into the English term provoke is Paroxuno [par-ox-oo-no] This is an interesting word for this context. Para means to come along side and Oxys means a sharp edge as is on a blade or knife. So, this word that has been translated in English as provoked actually means to come close to someone and cut, stab, or jab them with a knife or other sharpened object. Sometimes having the actual intent of the original text brings about a much fuller understanding than does our English equivalents alone. Some of the words or phrases other bible translations and versions have used to interpret the original Greek are; overly sensitive, irritable, easily angered, quick tempered, prone to anger, easily enraged or stirred to wrath. These are not the actions and thoughts of true love.

The second of the attributes we are looking at today is love thinks no evil. The term in Greek is Logizomai [log-id-zom-ahee] Kakos [kak-os]. The first of these words is where we get our root word logic from, and means to come to a reasonable or sensible conclusion. The second of these words means someone of morally rotten character with the connotation of a tree stump that is rotten to the core. The connected meaning then is one who sees no other possible conclusion to draw than whatever was said or done…must have come from a bad or deeply corrupt motive. Put in simpler terms, the original text says that love is not easily angered by thinking that whatever negative thing has just been experienced was intended to harm or came from an evil motive. Unfortunately, this is often the result when the “love” that has been experienced in the past has caused pain.

When we look to other scripture, we find these examples of how to respond in truly loving ways. Ephesians 4:32 tells us that our response to someone who we feel has treated us wrongly should not be to respond in kind but…Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (New Living Translation) It is easy to treat someone who has mistreated you reciprocally, or even to be kind to those who have been kind to you. Jesus said that even pagans do those things. However, in Luke 6:31 it is recorded that Jesus said that we should treat others the way we want to be treated, not necessarily the way we have been treated. In Matthew 5:44 He said, “But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat and persecute you.” Paul writes some further instructions on how to maintain the correct mindset when we feel that we are under the attack of someone who is supposed to love us. In Galatians 5:22-26 he reminds us who we are supposed to be looking to for correct motivation to our responses. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives; love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (New Living Translation) Ultimately, in Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us where to direct our thoughts when we have been mistreated, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things”. (New King James Version)

Love, real love, true love, agape love, acts correctly regardless of the side of the anger coin that is exposed at any given time. Love does not try to anger another. It does not move alongside to jab or cut; true love moves alongside to heal. Love also is not easily angered; it does not jump to the conclusion that the way it is being treated comes from ill intent or a desire to harm. Rather, real love looks to see what has caused an ill temper in the other and moves to help remediate the difficulty.

Questions to answer:

  1. Have you been guilty of saying things or responding in ways that in truth are intended to provoke your spouse?
  1. Do you feel that intentional provocation is something you and your spouse need to bring under control?
  1. Are you quick to think that if your spouse treats you or speaks to you unkindly that they have bad motives toward you?
  1. Do you think that your spouse has good intentions toward you in your interactions with them? To what degree do you believe this to be true? 10% of the time? 25%, 50%, 75%?

Actions to take:

  1. Decide what reminders the two of you could put in place to keep your responses to one another what they should be even in those times you may not be sure of each other’s motives.
  1. Pray together daily asking God to help the two of you respond to each other in only the ways He would desire you to do.

So now, choosing to be kind and giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt when you aren’t sure of their motives…Go Be Awesome!