Sabbath Thought - Provoking
I grew up as the middle of 5 boys, and siblings know you better than anyone else (at least when you are young). As we have grown up it is interesting to see how different we are, and yet how similar we can be. My two older brothers are very mechanical and for a time very involved in sports. The brother just younger than me is similar to me in artistic talent. The three youngest boys are all knowledgeable with computer matters. We all have a similar sense of humor and when we are together can really play off of one another.
One thing we were good at when we were younger was picking on each other. Siblings know the "soft spots" to get a personal dig in or what reminders or expressions can be hurtful. Most people are probably familiar with that type of provoking - even if you never had siblings. It seems to be a part of human nature for us to easily provoke each other.
But, provoking is not always wrong. In Hebrews 10:24 we are told: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works..." (KJV). The word "provoke" is used there (and in many older translations) and that word is very interesting. In the Greek it has a positive or negative meaning depending on the context. In a positive context it means "to incite". Many more modern translations use words like "stir up" or "spur on". The negative context is even worse than the provoking me and my brothers did - the Greek means a "sudden, violent outburst or a fit of violence".
The word "consider" is also used in that verse, and it means that the mind is focused on "one another". The natural human tendency is to focus primarily on oneself. It takes the spirit of Christ to be mindful of others and to serve their needs before our own. How often do we "consider one another" in truly serving? Most people put on happy faces on the Sabbath, but they may be dealing with all types of things throughout the week. "Considering one another" involves investing time in someone to get to know them - their background, their concerns in life, their needs, and their desires and hopes.
The best way to know what each of us truly believe in applying Hebrews 10:24 is how we serve a brother or sister in Christ, is how do we do that when it is not convenient? How do we react when someone falsely accuses us? What are our thoughts when someone rebuffs our service? What do we do, and how do we behave, when no one knows what we are doing?
Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. - C.S. Lewis.
How do we provoke one another? Is it like what my brothers and I did, or is it to spur another on to good works? Do we hurt others or are we helpful? Do we provoke in a positive or a negative way? Do we encourage others to love as Christ did, or to serve as He serves us?
We are going to need each other more as the end-times progress. The world hated Christ, and it will hate us (John 15:18) as we become a strong contrast to mankind increasingly rejects God's instruction, and instead believes and lives the lies of Satan. On this Sabbath day (especially), let us truly consider one another and provoke each other to love and good works.
I wish you a stirring Sabbath,
3 July, 2020