To Provoke or Not To Provoke



Watching the political debates evokes the word “provoke.” Personal conversations and social media interactions are filled with words and emotions that “provoke” each other. In our church’s marriage group, we discussed how we might “provoke” our spouses. So I did a little research on this difficult word.


The dictionary defines provoking as:

  1. to anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex
  2. to stir up, arouse, or call forth
  3. to incite or provide the needed stimulus for action
  4. to give rise to, induce, or bring about


By this definition, provoking can be good or bad. It depends on who’s getting “vexed” or the action that is stimulated. To me, the word “provoke” always had a negative connotation. But looking at this list, I see that Jesus was a provoker in every category:

  1. He angered the religious leaders of the day, pointing out their folly.
  2. He aroused the crowds and called forth disciples.
  3. He stimulated people to action, leaving home and families to follow Him.
  4. He brought about a transformation that changed the course of history.


Here’s a few do’s and don’ts from the Word regarding provoking:

  1. Don’t provoke the Lord to jealousy. The Israelites did this repeatedly in the Old Testament, following after kings and other gods, losing sight of the One who deserved their love and full attention. Paul asked the believers, “Do you dare to provoke the Lord’s jealousy as Israel did? Do you think you are stronger than He is?”1 Cor. 10:22
  2. Don’t provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) lest they be discouraged (Col. 3:21)
  3. DO provoke one another to love and good works! (Heb. 10:24) The NLT translates this verse: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”I love that – outbursts of love!


So, let’s start provoking! Let us stir up love, encourage good works, speak up for those who cannot. What can 1 person do? Start with your family. Provoke those around you to love and good works. Start a transformation that can change the course of history!


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