Beloved, as it is fitting for the saints, you must flee provocation, that is to say, you must not provoke anybody. What does it mean to provoke? It means to stimulate a reaction or emotion, (typically a strong or unwelcome one), in someone. We may provoke someone to anger, to jealousy, or in order to seduce him or her.

For instance, the Israelites in the wilderness provoked the Lord to anger by their idols, as it is written: “They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols” (Deuteronomy 32:21 – NKJV) and again: “Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough with you to have destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 9:8 – NKJV), and bear in mind that God is slow to anger. Therefore, according to this example of provocation, we may say that we can provoke a person to anger by doing deliberately something that you know he hates, that is to say, by annoying him. For instance, it is written: “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath ….. lest they become discouraged” (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21 – NKJV), which means that fathers must not annoy their children. Believers, for instance, must not provoke their leaders by doing what they detest, and so on.

The Israelites in the wilderness provoked God to jealousy, as it is written: “They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God” (Deuteronomy 32:21). In this case also, provocation was made by idols. What do we learn from their behaviour? We learn that if we do something that annoys someone we love, that person will be provoked to jealousy. Thus, for instance, a husband must not provoke his wife to jealousy by taking pleasure in talking with his neighbour’s wife or by having a walk with her alone or by paying other women compliments on the way they dress or talk and on other things. A wife also must not provoke her husband to jealousy by wearing provocative dresses, that draw the attention of men, or by taking pleasure in talking with other men or by paying other men compliments on their body or on the way they dress, and so on.

Finally, a person can provoke someone in order to seduce him or her. For instance, a woman can try to seduce a man by putting on some exciting perfumes, or by speaking ambiguous words or frivolous words, or by adopting certain provocative postures, or by wearing some provocative dresses. However the same things can be said about a man toward a woman. Such a behaviour is diabolical and you must flee it.