Do you ever get so busy and self-consumed that you forget there are people all around you who have needs and challenges too? It’s true that we are often so concerned about ourselves that we forget or bypass people who are struggling terribly, not realizing that they need a special act or word to encourage them. This is especially sad when it happens inside the church, because we are supposed to be a spiritual family who genuinely cares for one another and who helps meet each other’s needs. This is why Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”
The word “consider” is from the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata depicts something that is moving downward; the word noeo (from the word nous) depicts the mind and means to think. When the two words are placed together, the new word means to thoroughly think something through or to ponder something from the top all the way to the bottom. It is the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject.
This word pictures someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider that other person. He has observed the person’s ups and downs and his highs and lows. He has studied to find out what helps that person feel encouraged and what events tend to pull him down. Because he has determined to really know and understand that other person, he invests a great deal of time and concentration into studying and getting to know that other person. This kind of knowledge doesn’t come by accident, but by determined pursuit.
In light of this understanding, we must remember that although the local church is to be a place where we can come to worship and hear the Word of God preached and taught, it is also a place where believers should “consider one another” as this verse commands. The writer of Hebrews uses this word to convey the picture of a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each others’ welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works.
Not only are we to consider one another, but the Bible goes on to say we are also to provoke one another unto love and good works. The word “provoke” is the Greek word paraxusmos. The word para means alongside, and it carries the idea of being close. The second part of the word is the Greek word xusmos, which means to sharpen something, such as a knife, and indicates a very sharp situation. When you put the two words together, the compound word describes someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something.
You may have already guessed that “provoking” one another can be either a positive or a negative thing! One translation for this word paraxusmos would be to call into combat. Throughout the New Testament, the word paraxusmos is usually translated to mean to irritate, to incite, to anger, to inflame, or to enrage. Obviously, this kind of provoking is very bad! But in Hebrews 10:24, the word “provoking” is telling us that our relationships with other believers should incite us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
How can you provoke other believers in a positive way? How can you stimulate your brother in the Lord in such a way that you make him want to walk in love and do good works? How can you sharpen and inspire the fellow believer who is in need of endurance?
You can come alongside that person and love him enough not to leave him in discouragement and defeat. You can sharpen him, prod him, impel him, and inspire him to keep on fighting the good fight of faith! All believers need to be provoked at times, no matter what their position is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then!
A paraphrase of this verse might be the following:
“And constantly be observing one another, seriously contemplating studying, and examining each other, until you know exactly how to incite and stimulate each other to love and to good works.”
This verse plainly tells us that we should be extremely concerned about each other’s welfare and spiritual progression. We are to get involved in the local church, not just for our own benefit, but to be a benefit to others as well. We need people who will love us, observe us, and support us when we are struggling or standing on a word from God. But at the same time, others need our assistance too.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” This verse is telling us that real friends love us at all times and stay with us even in the midst of difficult circumstances. They will love us and stand with us no matter what we are going through, looking for ways to assist us when we are experiencing challenging times.
The local church should be a place of victory where faith is built up, the soul is encouraged, and wisdom and strength are imparted. It’s a community where faith lives and triumphs through a family of believers’ love and concern for one another.
There is nothing like living in an atmosphere of faith and love where you are surrounded by believers who really believe and practice the Word of God. Having friends like this gives you strength—and being a friend like this to someone else helps give him the strength he needs to live as an overcomer.
There is absolutely no substitute for the joy and satisfaction that comes when fellow church members go out of their way to call you, to come see you, to write you a note, or to personally check up on you—just because they have noticed that you need a little encouraging! Just knowing that someone cares enough to do that can make such a difference when you’re going through a difficult time!
If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re probably pretty good at provoking others in the negative sense. So why not commit yourself to becoming just as proficient in provoking your brothers and sisters in the Lord in the positive sense? Make a quality decision to become an expert at provoking others unto love and good deeds!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, forgive me for being so self consumed that I have neglected to see the needs in people around me. I am sorry I’ve been so selfish that I haven’t even recognized the times I could have been a blessing and an encouragement. I repent and I make the decision to reach out to those who are around me. Just as others have strengthened me, I want to be a source of strength to those around me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I take the time to carefully consider other people’s needs. I observe their ups and downs and their highs and lows. I study to find out what helps them feel encouraged. I am constantly observing and contemplating others to know how to encourage and provoke them to love and to good works. God uses me to come alongside those around me to help impel them to stay on track with God and with their God-given assignments. Because I am careful to notice other people’s needs and I reach out to assist them with words of strength, they are becoming better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of someone whom God really used to encourage you at a critical moment in your life? What did that person do that had such a dramatic impact on you?
- Who is that one person who needs you to be a source of strength and encouragement to him or her right now? Isn’t it time that you help someone else as others have helped you in the past?
- What practical things can you do to communicate your concern to others (for example, writing them a note, calling them on the telephone, sending flowers, etc.)? Is there something concrete you need to do today to show someone you are thinking and praying for him or her?