Sunday, November 2, 2008

Provoke Your Brother

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24

I came across this verse in my morning reading yesterday. The more I looked at the verse and the words in it, the more fascinated I became with it.

Provoke or stimulate (NASB) is such a loaded word in Greek. In it’s other New Testament usage, in Acts 15: 39, it refers to a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

A good translation of the word is incite, irritate or push to rage. It is not a safe, churchy word.

Another word in the verse is consider. As a subjunctive verb, this is something we should do. We need to observe, contemplate, look closely, think about and discover through observation. It denotes attentive, continuous care.

What I see in this is that I shouldn’t be preoccupied with myself but should spend a huge amount of time considering how I can motivate my brothers to love and good deeds.

So what’s required in provoking or stimulating? Here is the verse from The Message: Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out. Or, how about this in the Amplified: And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities.

How do I incite my brother? I don’t think the goal is to put someone down or cause an argument. We study them and the situation and come up with the best way to motivate them. It may be accomplished by a few soft words of encouragement or it may require getting in their face.

It requires checking our own heart as well. Is my action motivated by love and care or do I enjoy acting superior to others and being the local Sheriff?

I also need to be ready to receive from others who are considering how to provoke me. This give and take between brothers will lead to healthy vibrant lives demonstrating the power of redemption.


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