To Love As Jesus Loved: “Charity Is Not Easily Provoked” Part 1
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away…
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
The Characteristic of Scriptural Love: Does Not Get Irritated or Angered Easily
Christ was abused, mistreated and rejected throughout His ministry on earth. Isaiah the prophet foresaw this rejection of Christ when he wrote…
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)
Isaiah not only spoke of the great opposition that Christ would face, he also summarizes for us the common reaction of Christ to this great abuse when he said…
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
Although this type of loving calmness in the face of opposition took place throughout His life, I would like us to center upon just one event that clearly shows us Christ’s ability to control His temper, thereby treating others mercifully, even in the midst of great opposition and abuse. This took place just prior to His trial and crucifixion on the cross…
“And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Then took they him, and led [him], and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off… And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote [him].And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. (Luke 22:47–54, 63-65)
Here, in this event we can see Jesus had placed before Him a very telling choice. Would He direct His followers to physically oppose the false accusations, arrest, abuse, unjust trial, crucifixion and physical death; or, would He choose to withhold His anger, and His natural desire of self-preservation and allow this heinous abuse of Himself to take place unopposed?
Jesus answers this question for us in His verbal and active response to Peter:
His verbal response – Christ said “Suffer ye thus far.” In other words, “allow this to take place”
His active response – Peter, showing his impatience, irritation and rashness lashed out and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers coming to arrest his Lord. In comparison Christ, putting His patience and withheld anger on display, reaches out and heals the severed ear of the soldier.
Also Christ’s response to the false accusers is telling as well… “Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
In saying this, He was explaining for all to hear that He was going to be in submission to what was about to take place because “this is your hour and the power of darkness”. In other words, this is the time, set aside by God for the wicked powers of darkness to take Christ, abuse Him and put Him to death. In doing so, they would be bringing about the will of God in the redemption of His people (Isa 53:10, Acts 2:23).
Instead of Christ allowing His anger to rile and oppose the injustice against Him that was about to take place, we see that He simply submitted to the mistreatment, recognizing it was a part of God’s plan for His life and the redemption of His people. What was His motivation to allow the lost to take Him and abuse Him and put Him to death? It was His love for His Father and love for those God had given to Him.
Along with this study, we need to keep in mind that the Lord did display a righteous anger during His walk on earth. He displayed this righteous anger in at least three or four different occasions:
1. healing the man that had a withered hand (Mark 3:1-6) – angry and grieved at the hardness of their hearts
2. the two temple cleansings ( 1st – John 2:13-22; 2nd – Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48) – angered at the abuse of the worship place of His Father
3. the address of woes to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-36) – angry at the false teaching and misleading practices of the Pharisees.
A quick look at each event shows one thing in common. These displays of anger shown by Christ, in every case, involved anger concerning sins committed against His Father and the harmful results of those sins in the lives of others. It was never anger shown selfishly in opposition to opposition and mistreatment of Himself.
Our Lesson To Be Learned:
Do we ever find ourselves angry at those who abuse or offend us? Do we ever use anger in a defensive way trying to “get back” at others who have mistreated us? May we all follow the example of Christ and exhibit, love, patience, and mercy by keeping our love in control. Also, may we exhibit love at the proper times against sin and those who bring harm to others through that sin.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
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