by Scarlett Stough
While the scriptures exhort us to avoid provoking an angry response in others, especially our children (Ephesians 6:4), scripture also exhorts us to not allow ourselves to be easily provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Instead of provoking anger in others, we ought to be provoking one another to love (Hebrews 10:24). We have a responsibility to make an effort to repair the damage to the relationship caused by our thoughtless words or actions.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger
We are exhorted to speak the truth to each other, but truth can sometimes be difficult to hear when it points out our sins and mistakes, especially if done in a harsh manner. There are some keys to avoid being provoked and to avoid provoking others to anger. The most important key is love which does no harm. Another key is humility. Words we speak to others ought to be for their benefit.
The old adage “Think before you speak” is excellent advice to follow. Will the listener benefit? Will the relationship be harmed? Are all the facts known? Sometimes we think too highly of our own opinions which often are based on insufficient knowledge.
The main admonition to remember is to be willing to overlook someone else's mistakes, forgive and just move on.
If we can practice the excellent way of love which “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NASB, 1995), we will be able to resist the temptation to be provoked to anger or to provoke others to anger.