“It’s hard to put into words. I guess he bugs me so much that even the way he twitches his nose provokes me and the way he says ‘Faaaather’ when he prays annoys me. He just gets under my skin. Period! He always seems to be able to push the right buttons to get me going. I shouldn’t react but I do. I know he’s just trying to provoke me.”
Have you ever consciously provoked someone, irritated them, got them going, and then you stood back and watched the fireworks? Has anyone ever done it to you? Some people seem to be very adept at lighting every short-fuse they can find and, before you know it, the room is filled with tension, unease, discomfort, and negativity.
The Word of God actually encourages us to provoke one another. Before you raise your eyebrows at such a possibility, understand that the use of the word is different than the scenario painted above.
“Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Hebrews 10:24
The Epistle to the Hebrews silences every whisper against the absolute superiority of Christ. He surpassed everything the believers had known in the past and transcended everyone they had revered in history. So, they were encouraged to get on with honouring Christ in their lives; to stop wavering and waffling. They were exhorted to focus solely on Christ. Live for Him.
The writer to the Hebrews is saying: think about the impact you have on each other. Don’t drag each other down with your negativity; but rather, consider one another or take careful note of each other’s spiritual well-being. Don’t do things or say things to annoy other Christians or to get under their skin or to irritate them or to incite an angry outburst or even to drag them down.
The translation above uses the word ‘provoke’ but other translations use words such as: stir up, motivate and stimulate. Stimulate love for one another. Rather than inciting Christians to be annoyed by what we say or how we say it, we are to excite one another to love more and to do good works. Rather than irritate someone to react negatively, we are to stimulate and motivate another Christian to do what is right.
It doesn’t take many words to stir up a little hatred towards another Christian. Just create the spark and it will take off like wildfire. But the exhortation in Hebrews 10:24 is to spark and ignite a fire of love to cause good works to spread like wildfire.
Good works are hard to produce mechanically. It can be done but it’s a cold business. However, if we choose to love (love is an act of the will), the inner burning of love will result in an outward fire of good works. Good works spring out of loving hearts. Love is the root. Good works are the fruit. No good works – perhaps something is missing at the root.
“Lord I confess that I have been harbouring negative and bitter thoughts towards (be specific). Lord help me today, by my attitude and behaviour to excite, stimulate, and even motivate others to love more and show more goodness.”
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today,
Warmly in Christ
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