And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
- Hebrews 10:24-25
Interestingly, in the Greek, the word 'provoke' has two meanings, quite the opposite of one another. (G3948 incitement (to good), or dispute (in anger) When we use 'provoke' in our language, we mostly think of provocation or baiting someone to incite an adverse reaction — perhaps a fight or argument. We see our politicians doing it with characteristic ease and no conscience.
When we live with retorts life can become like a never-ending tennis match of negative comments, which all have an impact upon ourselves, our families and friends. Our kids pick up on our wisecracks, using the same principles and terminology we do, yet we tell them off, saying things like, "where did you learn that?" Here, the Lord is calling us to keep our baiting and negative provocations to ourselves and not release those words or actions upon others. He would like us to forget those trains of thought and focus on a future where love reigns, not impertinent retorts. Let's look at the world the Lord is taking us to in this scripture — provoking one another unto love and good works. Stop for a moment and think of your world where love and good works would reign. Think of your own local neighbourhood. According to 1 Corinthians 13, there would be more patience and kindness, less ego and envy. There would be much long suffering where we forgive people of much, and they forgive us instead of grudge-holding.
There would be minimal unseemly behaviour or retribution. People would be helping each other with good works out of sincere hearts. When we assembled, we would be exhorting one another to do good and love more. Like sports team members encourage each other to do better and work closer as a team, we would do the same, instead of trying to correct each other of our wrongdoings. Think of the purity and freedom in our minds with a community like this?
If your world is burdened with retorts and community-wrecking comments, change your own language today. Quietly begin to encourage yourself, lifting yourself up to a higher mark, then encourage others toward love and good works. Change begin at home with us, and does happen.
Today’s Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for love and good works, and the fruit they produce, it is always sweet and fulfilling. Thank you for those around me who already encourage me. Help me get better at this. Help me to encourage others, but first to consider my own mouth and works and get them focussed so I may be a leader in these attributes.