Love is not irritable (paroxuno). Paul used the same word, paroxuno, in Acts 17:16, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked [paroxuno] within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (NKJV). How did you feel when you saw the Sinulog (religious-commercial celebration of the child idol called, “Sto. Nino”)? Was your spirit provoked? Like Paul, my spirit was provoked to pity and anger. Pity because millions are spiritually blind, lost in their sin, and without Christ in their lives. Anger because spiritual forces of evil hold them captive to idolatry; and for zeal for the true God, who is spirit and truth.
Love is not irritable, in the sense that it is not inclined to irritability. It is not prone to anger. The man who serves with love looks calmly at situations. He may get hurt from irritable people. But he “governs his passions, restrains his temper, [and] subdues his feelings.” (Barnes) We have our passions, but we are not governed by it. (Matthew Poole’s Commentary) We each have our tempers, some of us being more temperamental than others. But with love for others, we will not allow ourselves to be ruled by our tempers. Rather, we overrule it. (Poole) When you are controlled by this kind of love, you don’t “fly into a rage,” but you keep your “temper under control.” (People’s New Testament)
How do you react to irritable people/situations? Albert Barnes gives the following helpful insights. If you are controlled by this spirit of love, you will look kindly at the actions of irritable people. You will try to understand their motives, believing that they may have good motives. You will think it possible that we are mistaken as to their conduct. You will seek an explanation before we explode in anger. You will wait till we understand the whole situation.
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