“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”Hebrews 10:24
My sister was six years older than I, and we experienced some adversity growing up in the same house. Our house growing up had one bathroom that we all shared, so you can imagine how this could be problematic. Girls naturally mature faster than boys, and I was already six years behind in that race. I did many things to my sister to provoke her, and I am infamous for my many hits to her back. I am sure she has thick skin on her back due to many assaults on it as I sought to strike as soon as she turned her back on me, I was no fool and it was much easier to commit a ground attack when her back was turned
I would like to say I provoked my sister to love and good works, but I instead provoked her to anger and retaliation. I was not a model citizen and my mom, the sheriff, often had to come in and lay down the law. Looking back, I wish I was a better brother who provoked her to things others than anger and angst, but I cannot rewrite the past and there is the element of needing to be truthful. My sister tried to exemplify patience but I provoked her until she could take no more. I am sure I gave her ample experience in patience and longsuffering, but I simply pushed her to her limits just because I could. I knew her weak points and I would exploit them at any given opportunity. I would call her bruises buttons, and I would push those as well just to be mean.
I know I sound like a big fat jerk, and my response to that is: guilty! I am convicted by this verse because I have not always exemplified the right kind of “provoke”. I have been a bully, pest, jerk and you can continue to fill in the blank with whatever else comes to mind. I have not been an encourager, but at many times a discourager. I have provoked people to wrong, but have not yet mastered provoking unto love and good works. I have fallen short in this area, but I look to turn that around and do better for the honor and glory of my God.
We all have the capability to play a vital role in each other’s lives. We can be a good influence or we can be one who tears down and destroys. We are to consider one another in a preferable way, and we are to nudge others to love and to do the right thing. We should not be known for our back jabs, and we should not push people to the edge of their sanity. We are to be different and we should desire to help and serve. Christians can sometimes be cruel and judgmental and forget what God saved them from, and what He has called them to.
What are you known for? Are you one who provokes unto love and good works or are you one who provokes to wrath? Are you making a difference for eternity or are you a hindrance and stumblingblock? Will you mature beyond your own selfish interests and petty differences? Let us consider others before we consider ourselves, and let us be what God has called us to be. Will you punch others in the back with anger or will you encourage others with love and a pat on the back? May we all grow up from being a pesky little brother, and may iron sharpen iron.