Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
Love is not irritable or resentful. If we want to love like God calls us to love, then it’s crucial we take the time to unravel the original meaning of these words. When you look up irritable, it means easily angered, annoyed, or provoked. In Paul’s original text, the word is the passive form of the verb to provoke or bring to a sharp point, meaning the person is being acted upon, but not acting itself. So, it would seem what he was trying to say to us is that love does not respond when triggered. In other words, someone who loves well chooses to accept another’s attacks without fighting back. When our spouse is feeling grumpy, or they seem to come after us, trying to incite us, we stand down. When they are pushing our buttons or trying to anger us, someone who loves well does not fight back. It’s important to note that it does not mean we sit silently while fuming inside, or we respond by isolating ourselves until they apologize. To say love is not irritable means we truly are not provoked to respond. Instead, we let them rant without accepting it as a personal attack. Choosing to love unconditionally in this manner doesn’t mean we necessarily accept their harsh or hurtful words without any attempt at reconciliation. Words hurt, and the offender creates a wound that needs to be tended before the healing can happen in the relationship, but it does mean we don’t add to the injury by growing angry and shouting hurtful words in retaliation.
Those directions are more easily said than done. When angry and hurtful words are being launched at you, it’s easy to become offended or hurt and fight back or isolate. But if we are to truly love like Jesus loves, we need to change our perspective. Perhaps the other person is operating from a place where they feel angry or hurt, maybe they had a bad day or a difficult interaction. When I’ve been wounded, I’ve chosen to spend time on my knees trying to understand my spouse’s perspective—God always opens my eyes when I seek His help. I’ve learned how to not take words thrown at me so personally, even when it sounds directed at me, because that’s what God calls me to do. Our response is to not be irritable, to not to be offended or hurt by their words, but simply to love them.
It’s a choice. When we choose to not be irritable, we are choosing to show mercy to others in our lives as God has shown us mercy. We do not get what we deserve, instead we receive mercy from our Father in heaven. This is the same mindset we must have when we love others—we must choose to show mercy.
When you read the ESV version of the Bible, you see a footnote under resentful, “does not count up wrongdoing.” By dictionary definition, resentful means to feel indignation at some remark or act by another person, but the connotation is about keeping score. It’s the piling up of hurtful actions, the hanging on to past injuries. Someone who is resentful will bring up injuries from the past that should be let go.
God calls us to immediate forgiveness, which means the offense is never to be brought up again. If you’re holding on to the things a person in your life has done, you are not forgiving. The danger in not forgiving is that things easily pile on top of hurt. The first unforgiven hurt provides a foundation for more hurts to be piled on. Suddenly, we find the hurts are more easy to come by and harder to forgive, and we end up buried under years of pain we don’t know how to work through.
God doesn’t keep track of our sins against Him, we should not keep track of others. He chooses to show us grace. If we are to love like He does, we must choose to show grace in the same way to others in our lives. It can be hard to let things go in our own power, but if we go to Him with our hurts and lay them down, He will show us how to forgive as He does. Many times, we will be able to lay the hurt down, but the enemy will nudge us to pick it back up again. He will bring to mind a hurt from the past, and instantly we are feeling that same emotion. In those moments, we must choose to bring our thoughts obedient to Christ by bringing them right back before the Lord and laying them down again. One important step we tend to miss in learning to forgive is our confession and repentance. When we fail to forgive, the sin is on our shoulders. We must confess that sin to God, and choose repentance before we can truly move past it. And when we do that, the foundation to pile on other hurts is destroyed. Choosing to not be irritable or resentful in a marriage is one of the most challenging yet life-giving and vital choices you can make to ensure the success of your union. It is a choice—a conscious choice that takes intentionality and work, but that choice will be one of the greatest blessings you can bring to your marriage.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗