Saturday, June 5, 2010

Charity Is Not Easily Provoked

My resolution this month is to be less easily provoked, taken from 1 Corinathians 13:5.

This resolution appears to be very straight-forward. To provoke means:

to anger, enrage, exasperate, vex or cause resentment

Therefore, to be provoked means:

to react in anger, rage, exasperation, vexation or resentment

Perhaps the only thing that jumps out at me immediately from this definition is that charity not being easily provoked includes much more than just "being angry". In fact, unlike the previous characteristics in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and the Sermon on the Mount, it doesn't appear to be about "being" at the most fundamental level. Rather, it is about "doing" - or, more precisely, "reacting". It occurs when someone or something (e.g., a situation) acts in a way that bothers me and I react in a way that is responsive to my being upset at that person or situation.

Even more inportantly, it also includes what we naturally might consider to be less harsh reactions than hate, anger or rage - since exasperation, vexation and resentment also are included. With that in mind, 2 Nephi 2:14 says:

And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

What I take from this is quite elemental, but it is not something I have considered previously:

If I am to be less easily provoked at the end of this month than I am at this moment, I will need to choose my actions consciously and intentionally ("act") in ALL situations and avoid allowing myself to act without thought and intention when I feel a negative emotion reaction ("being acted upon") - especially at those times when that negative emotion is particularly strong.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, I do not need to seek for these experiences. They happen regularly simply as a result of mortality. I don't have to pursue them; they will find me completely on their own - and it is when they are unexpected that my growth or lack thereof will be manifested.

This resolution appears to be related closely to the characteristic of peacemaking in the Seromon on the Mount - and I will be reviewing the posts I wrote about peace as I continue to consider this month's resolution. Perhaps the "being" simply is developing and maintaining internal peace and calm, even amid the storms of life.


Anonymous said...

I think it's also about being able to take a moment-but life can be hard like that and we often don't get that moment or something gets under the radar.I try,I truly do then something someone says (usually my nearest and dearest) gets my goat and my intentions are gone.In these situations I'm so glad for repentance and the humbling influence of the Spirit that can lead us away from self justification and defensiveness into a more humble and penitent mode.Recognising our tendencies and asking for our loved one's forgiveness with real intent to change keeps us tender and open to the Spirit's continued promptings to humble repentance.A work in progress.Thanks for setting the bar Ray,but be good to your dear self.

Confutus said...

It's much easier to be forgiving if we have learned not to take offense in the first place.

Papa D said...

Thanks for sharing that, Anon.

I agree, Confutus - which was the point of Elder Bednar's talk about taking offense. It really is within our power to not be offended, even when we are hurt. There is an important difference between those two - and I would suggest that the biggest one deals with expectations. Part of being charitable, imo, is not expecting of others what they are unable to do/be.