Question: "What does it mean that love is not easily angered (1 Corinthians 13:5)?"
Answer: Love is an attribute of God and one of His gifts to us. First Corinthians 13 offers tremendous perspective regarding the true nature of Christian love. A portion of the description says that love “is not easily angered” (verse 5). This helps us understand what true love looks like (and what it doesn’t).
If love is not easily angered, then a person with a “short fuse,” who becomes angry easily, is not showing love. Love is called “patient” in verse 4 (both love and patience are listed as fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23). Patience includes the ability to tolerate weaknesses in others without readily expressing anger. “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8); it doesn’t fly off the handle at every provocation.
Anger itself is not sinful but can quickly lead to sinful expressions. For this reason, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26). There are times when we become angry, yet we are called to express our anger in non-sinful, constructive ways. Love will guide us in the proper handling of anger. Jesus Himself was angry on at least one occasion: “He looked around at them in anger . . . deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5). Jesus was angry at people’s adamant refusal to acknowledge the truth, but He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). In fact, He used the situation for good, healing a man’s hand.
Rather than pretend that we will never feel angry, Scripture simply says to be “slow to become angry” (James 1:19). God is “slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 86:15), and this description is quite telling. The truth that God is measured in His wrath is immediately followed by the truth that He overflows with love. The connection between the two is obvious. Love puts the brakes on anger, slowing it down for the sake of the one loved.
Being hot tempered usually involves making snap judgments, seeking instant vindication, and refusing to grant second chances. However, true love refuses to jump to conclusions, take revenge, or hastily judge anyone.
The fact that love is “not easily angered” highlights God’s patient love for the world. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). May God grant us the type of love that can keep our anger in check.