by Pastor Anthony Pranno
The Apostle Paul had much to say about loving and encouraging other Christians in his Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians), but perhaps this Hebrew of Hebrews was instructed by the author of the New Testament Book of Hebrews. Take a look at this passage from chapter 10…
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
I really like the translation spur one another on used in the NIV, but the original Greek translation means: “to incite or stimulate; to cause a state of inward arousal, to provoke wrath, to irritate.” Imagine irritating someone toward love and good deeds? Have you ever felt incited, provoked, or irritated to do something that you knew you were supposed to do anyway?
The first time I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Denver Rescue Mission downtown, I was reluctant. I didn’t really want to do it and wasn’t convinced I needed to. A good friend of mine kept asking me to go, but I made excuse after excuse. Finally I decided it was time to give it a go. Why? Because of my friend’s persistence in provoking me, even to the point when I said, “Okay, I’ll go, but you’ve got to promise to get off my back!” Needless to say, after I went once I knew that it was not just my friend, but God who wanted me there… and I’ve been back several times since.
This is what Solomon meant when he said in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We all know what happens when iron sharpens iron: friction, heat, sparks. If we are not willing to deal with friction, feel the heat, and see the sparks of conflict, rebuke and debate, then we will never have the kind of relationship that empowers us to obey this command.
The biggest obstacle is in spurring someone on toward love and good deeds is hypocrisy. If we provoke someone toward love and good deeds they might feel judged and turn the tables on us. The writer of Hebrews wanted followers of Jesus to spur one another on toward the things they’re supposed to be doing anyway: love, encouragement, gathering together, fellowship.
In other words, it’s our responsibility to keep each other in check! We can’t let each other have a critical spirit. We can’t tolerate hate or hold grudges. Don’t let your brothers and sisters in Christ ignore people who are in need. Spur one another on to help, love and serve. The people of God need to be better at digging their spurs in and expecting more from each other as we follow Jesus and are conformed into his image.
Remember that spurring one another on, inciting, provoking, or irritating each other is in the context of the phrase “toward love and good deeds.” Irritating for the sake of irritating isn’t the message here. The writer of Hebrews agrees with:
- Jesus, when he says, “love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love others as you love yourself.”
- Paul, when he says, “now these three remain: faith, hope and love… but the greatest of these is love.”
- Peter, when he says, “love one another deeply, from the heart.”
- John, when he says, “let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
So dig in, hang tight, and spur each other on. Being part of the body of Christ is a wild ride at times… but worth every second.