Love and Provocation - David Mitts

“Love is not easily provoked” 1 Cor. 13:5
Click here to listen to "Love and Provocation"
We often refer to the word triggered for the concept of love not being easily provoked or easily angered. We realize that when we are angered that we are swept up in the emotion.  The root of anger or provocation for anger is often a question of perspective.  
I once heard that when you dissect getting upset or angry over something, it often is rooted in an unmet expectation.  There is in us a sense of expectations of how things are supposed to occur.  This expectation set becomes the gauge or monitor for how we respond to life’s circumstances.
We can call it our “fairness” filter.  We expect based on our experiences and learning to have certain things turn out in a certain fashion.
For example, if people have generally been honest with us then we expect honesty from people. However, if we have grown up in a deceptive environment where lying was the norm, then we have a lower expectation of people being honest with their words.
We get angry in the first scenario because we feel offended by dishonesty.  In the second scenario, we don’t have the same expectation, so we are less likely to get angry by the lying because we believe in our hearts that lying is to be expected. There is a cost however to this lack of anger. Our heart settles into not believing and we lose hope. More about that later.
A simple example of lowered expectations is campaign promises.  We have to a certain extent, become jaded by politicians.  Or another more painful example is the parent who makes repeated promises to attend their child’s sporting or dance event and the child waits with hope and then those hopes are repeatedly dashed by broken promises.
So the Apostle tells us in this context that Love is not easily provoked.
What does that mean?  Does this mean that we should stop expecting people to be honest and keep their promises?  That certainly would be a way of not being provoked.  If you have given up hope of good outcomes, then you probably won’t be easily provoked.
If that were what the scripture was speaking of then it would be promoting a kind of death.  The death of expectations.  Since the Word only brings life, that cannot be the case.
The Gospel can’t be telling us to be “realistic” in our expectations so we won’t be provoked. The One who gave His life out of passion surely wouldn’t want us to be dispassionate.  That is not the Gospel of Life, but the gospel of detachment and death.
So then how do we go beyond provocation?
Well, that’s why it is called love. Love, true love from God is not about attitude control.  It isn’t that we try by some mental tricks to get ourselves to be more “loving.” No love is transformational in nature.  Through His Love, God doesn’t change us.  God transforms us.
Prior to our salvation, we live in the world of expectations and broken promises.  The only resources we have in this realm is law.  Law is all about expectations and performance.  We try to use laws to control expectations.  This isn’t just biblical laws or even civil laws but even codes of behavior in families, churches, or any defined group.  These are codes we are told to live by.
In that realm, all that exists is brokenness upon brokenness. We want to honor the codes to avoid the wrath.  First, there is God’s wrath. Next is society’s wrath. Finally, there is the wrath of our family, our friends, or our community of choice. This is a true condition of hopelessness.  Even our best behavior, keeping the “Law” is doomed to failure, not because the Law or codes are usually bad, but because we are designed for freedom and the more we try to keep the Law, even the righteous Law, the more we feel the death of the effort and the more we struggle against the chains.
Take the Feasts of Shabbat or any Law but let’s start with these that we agree with in our hearts.  We know they are true Laws of God. So we want to keep them.  In that place, however, we secretly fear the wrath of God as a backdrop for our keeping them.  Religion requires wrath.  Anger is always the result of unmet expectations.  The Law, the Torah, the righteous expression of God’s desire for us is embedded through our desire to do the right thing, and then call it loving God, in the background of pleasing God, which has as its fundamental emotion, if we don’t wrath or anger. Can you see it???
People have left this ministry because we weren’t keeping their idea of some set of codes or law.  It is almost always why people leave a ministry and it is rooted in anger which is connected to Law. On the doing side of it, the attempts to live up to the codes, written or otherwise,  is a death trap as well.
People continually try to change through self-improvement, or they give up and resort to medications or other idols to deal with their broken and damaged hearts.
This process is described by the Apostle Paul in Romans 7.
I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. (Romans 7:15-18)
Our sinful nature, outside of the transformation by Messiah, is in conflict with the Law or Torah of God.  The Law or Torah is God’s expressed will.  He is good and His will is good so His Law is good.   Yet we are by nature in sin.  That nature is fragmentary, broken.  When we try to improve ourselves through positive thinking or by self-oriented methods we quickly realize that we are own worst enemy.  It is a battle between how we would like our lives to be, our secret expectations and how our life actually is.  This brings about anger in us, first at ourselves and through those self-judgments anyone or anything else that reminds us of the judgments.
Love is not easily angered or provoked.  
We are easily angered or provoked.
So how we do we correct that?  How do we manage our frustrations, our dislikes, the unfair things in our lives?  How do we manage our anger? We don’t.  What we do is surrender to Him who transforms us.  The transformation begins in our spirit, what is called being “in Christ” and then proceeds to our soul beginning with our mind will and emotions.  This is what Romans 8 tells us after the frustration of Romans 7.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2).
This is a picture not of change but a total change of state, which is a transformation. The question is what does it truly mean to be in Christ, to belong to Him?  
You see we think the struggle is with sin.  That is a struggle for sure, but how do we know it is sin?  By Law.  The true struggle is with Law.  Anger arises out of Law.  It is wrath that we fear when we look at Law.
Take speeding as a simple example.  We know the law, say 70MPH. We drive 80 MPH in our desire to win at getting somewhere faster.  In this heart condition, we are at odds with the law, which we would describe as “sin.”  Sin is the desire to resist the law.  What if there were no speed limit?  Then there could be no sin.  So, the problem is with the Law.  Law makes us aware that there is a boundary to our behavior and reveals the inner desire to be free from boundaries.  Am I saying the law is bad? No, it is righteous.
So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore, did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. (Romans 7:12-13)
No! What I am saying is that boundaries and consequences reveal our desire to be free.  The desire is actually God-given.  I know it may seem strange that I am saying that our resistance to rules and boundaries is God-given but I believe it is.  It is part of the goodness of God that brings us to repentance.  A bird in a cage wants to fly.  We want to fly. What does this have to do with anger? Or the statement, “love is not easily angered or provoked”?
Well, it’s like this.  The rules, the boundaries both define the anger and stimulate the anger.  The anger is the emotion that is our desire to be free.  We know that breaking the expectations will produce anger and it is in anger that we try to break the rules because we want to fly.  This is a trap.  It is the trap of religion.  It is the trap of expectations.  How do we get free?  How do we get to love?
Well, let’s go back to the speed limit example.  You speed, you get pulled over.  The wrath of the law is now at work on your rebellion.  How do you get free?  By love.  
First, you need grace.  Grace is the ability not to speed.  It is the awareness of a choice and making a choice to surrender your will to the greater will of the Law.  We cannot nor will not keep the Law in the flesh.  It is impossible, and the failed attempts expose anger or wrath.  No.  It requires us to open up our eyes, ears, and heart.  To what? To the perspective and love of the Lawgiver.  You see the speed limit is not about speeding.  The Law is not for rebellion.  No, the Law is to make the road safe and provide a guideline for the conditions.  It is for all the people who will use that road.  Actually, the Law is Love.
When we allow the Love of the Lawgiver to become our thinking, seeing and hearing then we align ourselves to that love and we are one or healed.
Yeshua said it this way:
And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.' " (Mark 4:11-12)
This is a quote of Isaiah 6:9-10
And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10)
The mystery or the secret that Love reveals is to see the heart of the Lawgiver and then to fall in love with that heart and in that place, there is forgiveness and healing.  
So Love is not easily angered means to transcend the kingdom of expectations and wrath and see the reality of the love of God and become one with that love and be healed from our rebellion which is really just a fleshly counterfeit of our true desire to live by the Spirit and be free, which is our birthright!
Activation:  We want to move from bondage, to obedience, to freedom.  
Let’s begin with bondage😐
What rules do you resist?  What expectations are you afraid to disappoint?  What do you get angered by?  What is the expectation that you put on others?
Can you surrender that?  Not the expectation but the bondage of it.  
What is God’s perspective about it? Ask Him.  What is His heart in the expectation? Can you allow yourself to see His goodness and surrender?
This is where the freedom is born.💖


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