Summary: This is installment 8 in a series on I Corinthians 13, and deals with the fact that love "is not easily provoked."
“Reactions Speak Louder”
February 9, 2003
Love of Another Kind – I Corinthians 13
Donny Osmond’s back, the man who’s been a teenager for 35 years, and now he’s hosting a throwback show; it’s now just called “Pyramid”, but for years we knew it as the “$20,000 Pyramid”. If you remember how the game is played, play along with me…but silently! I’ll give the clues: a woman in the Express line with a full cart; kids leaving clothes all over the floor; getting cut off in traffic; politicians voting themselves a big pay raise; husbands who leave the seat up! Yeah, you know the answer: things that tick you off! Today we continue our study of I Corinthians 13 by looking at the subject of anger, and how love responds. Stand with me as we read I Corinthians 13!
Getting a Grip on Anger
There was an elderly woman preparing to park her expensive Cadillac when a young high school student cut her off and stole her parking place. The young man jumped out of his car and shouted " OH, TO BE YOUNG AND FAST ". The older lady backed her car up, then floored it and started using it for a battering ram to demolish the young man’s car. She then rolled down her window and shouted, " OH, TO BE OLD AND RICH." Can you identify with the lady? Been there…wanted to do that?
The word anger is used two-hundred and sixty-two times in over two-hundred and fifty-six verses in the Bible. It’s pretty important that we get a grip on the subject, and on the godly response to it. Paul says that “love is not provoked”. Calvin calls love “a bridle to repress quarrels”. How can we allow love to act as that bridle, as we are empowered by the indwelling Spirit?
I. Realize what anger is
Some translations add the qualifying adverb “easily”, as in “love is not easily provoked.” While this word does not appear in the text, it seems obvious that this is the author’s intent. Peterson: “love doesn’t fly off the handle”. It is not that there is never a place for anger—we’ll talk about that, but James puts it well in James 1:19, which says we are to be “slow to anger”. This is the gist of what is being said here—the word “easily” is not in the original, but seems the sense of what is being said.
Paroxuno is the Greek word, and it means “to arouse to anger”. From this comes the English word “paroxysm”, which means a sudden outburst or convulsion of emotion.
This deals with our reactions; what happens when we are
Anger comes naturally. Go to the nursery. Walk over to the sweetest little baby in a crib. Take away his bottle, or let his diaper go unattended, and that sweet, innocent child will contort his face into something that looks like it’s right out of The Exorcist; he’ll turn beet red, and he’ll let out a scream so loud we’ll hear it a block away. Anger is perfectly normal—but Christians are not supposed to be normal people!
No one is immune to the temptation to be provoked, to be irritated, to be angered, to be aggravated. Most of us give in to the temptation regularly! Moses was considered to be a very humble person (Number 12:3) and yet he lost it when the Israelites grumbled.
Anger, then, is a natural, sin-based reaction to some stimulus.
II. Realize what anger does
A. To others
America has a problem handling its anger. This past year, over half of the murders in America were committed by people who knew the victim. Six million wives were beaten by their husbands. Ten million children were beaten by their parents to the point of abuse. The evening news is full of this kind of stuff.
“Telling our wives or husbands that we love them is not convincing if we continually get upset and angry at what they say and do. Telling our children that we love them is not convincing if we often yell at them for doing things that irritate us and interfere with our own plans. It does no good to protest, ‘I lose my temper a lot, but it’s all over in a few minutes.’ So is a nuclear bomb. A great deal of damage can be done in a very short time. Temper is always destructive, and even small temper ‘bombs’ can leave much hurt and damage, especially when they explode on a regular basis. Lovelessness is the cause of temper, and love is the only cure” (John MacArthur).
B. To me
“Anger management” is in vogue nowadays. Prepping for this sermon, I read one message which involved a six-point outline on doing just this. In fact, what I am reading from some other Christian leaders and pastors seems to me to emphasize the wrong thing about anger. One writes “anger has a place to play in the life of the Christian”. Well, maybe, but it seems to me that our words to believers ought not to encourage anger, but to warn against it. For every word that needs to be said to suggest that we ought to become angry about injustice (and sure, there’s a place for that), we ought to say 10 to warn against anger’s corrosive properties in our lives. While the Scripture does allow for the place of righteous anger, the continual counsel of the Bible is that anger is a dangerous thing we ought not monkey around with, that we ought to avoid, and that isn’t good at all, either for us or for others.