Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants (workers), obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;
- Colossians 3:18-22
Although it looks like five groups of people, we actually have ten here —five givers and five recipients. Wives to husbands, husbands to wives, children to parents, fathers (specifically) to children, employees to those over them.
Interestingly, mothers escape these instructions (God bless mothers 😊).
In those roles, each ‘giver’ is a servant of love to the Lord. If carried out, those roles provide love, peace and rest. If not, they provoke bitterness, unrest and anger.
In the KJV of the Bible, there are 76 references for the word Provoke, and 11 references for provocation.
Godly provocation is profitable, such as awakening an unbeliever to the thought of an afterlife. Yet, in an ungodly provocation, all we do is irritate and upset. This provoking might seem humorous or even necessary at the time. However, if it is done without scriptures overarching intent, all we do is get others out of their rest, which can damage relationships. Having said that, some of us need a rattle now and then :)
Hebrews 4:1 says, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left of us entering into his rest, any of you (five) should seem to come short of it.”
Hebrews 4:11 states that we must labour to enter into that rest. Some of that labouring is the restraining of our desire to use satire, sarcasm or mockery in our speech, the source of which is our heart.
As a final solution, when the recipient can’t find the peace and rest from the giver, sometimes they seek it elsewhere.
The unsubmitting wife drives the husband to the hotel or club, or another's arms. The bitter husband drives the wife into the arms of her children, or someone who will appreciate her, or divorce and peace. The disobedient children push loving parents to disengage and employ all sorts of agencies that previously never entered their minds. Disobedient servants or workers seal their own fate by being put on a secret blacklist where, as soon as possible, they are let go.
The Lord has higher aims for us. If we can move our minds, hearts and mouths into a state of obedience to the above principles, we will do much to bring peace to our relationships with God and people.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, please help me when I feel in a provocative mood to change my words. I often think it's funny, but help understand the more severe effect.