The "Let Us" Series From The Book Of Hebrews #7
"LET US CONSIDER HOW TO SPUR EACH OTHER ON TO GOOD WORKS!"
TEXT: Hebrews 10:24
INTRO: Have you ever been provoked to anger? Probably we have all had that experience. It usually involves someone deliberately working hard to get under our skin, to not only show their contempt for us, but to move us to respond in kind. All of this of course with the intent of causing pain and hurt. In such cases the person who can get that kind of reaction from us feels powerful and in control. They may also feel a sick sense of relief at getting even.
What if we did this in reverse? Instead of provoking someone to anger, we used the same kind of emotional strength and strategy to provoke others to love and good works. This is behind this single verse of Scripture as the third exhortation in Hebrews 10. The invitation to “Let us…” is meant to invite all the believers into process of deliberate actions toward others that will move them to love more, and to do good works out of joy. The more we combine our acts of love and good works, the more we move the world toward Christ! We may think our own small contribution won’t matter, but when added to other believers we can show the power of God’s love.
ILLUS: The story is told of a heavy bronze bell
that had sunk into a river in
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to not only be full of love and good works, but we are to help spur on or provoke others to love and good works.
I. EXORTATION! Heb. 10:24a
A. “Provoking” Heb. 10:24a
1. The author is using an unexpected word here, “paroxusmon” in Greek translated here, “Provoke.” This word was normally used in a negative sense, such as in provocation or exasperation toward anger!
a. This may indicate that the believers were already “provoking” one another in negative ways, such as in arguing, or disagreements, perhaps building toward hatred – and so the author uses the same word to tell them STRONGLY to provoke each other toward love instead.
b. In other words the author is saying, “With the same energy you are using to provoke each other negatively use to do good instead!”
c. The author of Hebrews does this in a very pastoral way, he says, “LET US…” so he includes himself; it is not just aimed at them.
d. All believers need to be cognizant of their own actions toward others, not to provoke to evil, but to provoke toward good.
2. Discipline of life and love
a. They are to take notice of how their interactions affect each other.
b. We can help people down a path of love, or hurt them down a path of pain.
c. Any attitude or action taken by us should be viewed through the lens of how it will affect others. Does it move others into the arena of being built up, or pulling them down?
d. The idea is to go even beyond the “average” response, actually go out of the way to do good to others, whether they deserve it or not!
ILLUS: Have you understood what is really involved in the "cup of cold water," as Matt 10:42 calls it? There is more to it than appears on the surface. In Eastern lands the water is drawn up from a well in the court or fetched from a distance. The housewife brings in a supply in the morning and lets it stand ready for use. As the day goes on the water gets warm. It would be easy for her to give a cup of this water to a thirsty friend or stranger, but a "cup of cold water" implies the kindly thought that would lead her to take the trouble to draw it or fetch it straight from the well, perhaps in the heat of the day. So often we give what amounts to tepid water to save ourselves extra work. But I believe it is the "cup of cold water" that shall in no wise lose its reward. The principle would seem to be that going out of our way, making sacrifices to help the poor, will have a sure reward. – Source Unknown
3. When you fall in love with someone else that is your only desire, you are provoked or excited to see how you can show your love to the one who is loved.
a. This is natural when we fall in love with someone!
b. Falling in love with someone will provoke us to do everything we can to show it!
c. There should be the same attitude toward others when the love of Christ is ruling in our hearts!
d. The Christian life doesn't just happen, it comes as the fruit of self-discipline along with God's graces.
e. The focus here is a call to action, not just thought.
B. Practicing! Heb. 10:24a
1. We cannot assume that Christian graces will “just happen” in our lives, they need to be developed, we need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12b)
a. Intentionality is involved here, as well as discipline.
b. The writer is speaking about the effort of choice, they will need to stop “provoking” out of emotional responses, but rather start taking seriously their new status as believers and guide their beliefs and behaviors to be those that would “provoke” one another toward good works, not evil deeds.
2. If in their past lives they provoked one another to hatred and anger, in their new life in Christ they are use the same energy and zeal to “provoke” each other to love and good deeds.
3. By doing this they will enable others to do the same, their combined efforts will help them all!
ILLUS: Have you ever wondered why the Canadian geese fly only in the V formation? For years specialists in aerodynamics wondered the same thing. Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel what happens in such a V formation. Each goose, in flapping his wings, creates an upward lift for the goose that follows. When all the geese do their part in the V formation, the whole flock has a 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Each depends upon the other to get to its destination.
Something else - When a goose begins to lag behind, the others "honk" it back into place. Now, let us learn from God's animal creation. The church needs to fly in a spiritual V formation, "honking" one another into steadfastness. And it must be at least 71 percent easier to live the faithful Christian life flying with the flock as opposed to going it alone. "Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb 10:24). – Source Unknown
4. The kind of love they are being asked to provoke is the word “agape” – the deepest kind of love.
5. “To consider” provoking means to become deliberate at both thought and action how they could move each other forward in their hearts and minds, and actions. To take self out of the front position and put others there instead.
6. The concept of them provoking one another is almost akin to making a contest to see how they can outdo each other in moving people by love and good works.
a. This shows how important good works are!
b. It is not good works to get you saved, it is good works because you are saved!
7. The fruit of showing their good deeds and provoking one another to doing good deeds will be others coming to Christ. It is way we demonstrate to the world the reality of God’s presence in our own lives!
II. EXAMPLES! Heb. 10:24b
A. Purposeful! Heb. 10:24b
1. We become students at loving others, and spurring others on to love others.
2. The Christian life is not a half-hazard existence, it is meant to be one of purposeful living.
3. The purpose in life is not to fulfill ones’ own needs, but those of others.
a. There were no doubt some in the chuch who were doing this, and the writing is trying to encourage the rest to join in, hence the “LET US…”
b. A community of believers loving each other is a powerful draw. People are drawn to a church not at first because of doctrine or architecture, they are often drawn because they hear and see stories of people who genuinely love each other and are out working hard at doing good works.
ILLUS: In Conspiracy of Kindness, Steve Sjogren (pronounced Show-gren) tells the true story of Joe Delaney and his eight-year-old son, Jared, who were playing catch in their backyard.
Jared asked, "Dad, is there a God?"
Joe replied that he went to church only a few times when he was a kid; he really had no idea.
Jared ran into the house. "I'll be right back!" he yelled.
Moments later he returned with a helium balloon from the circus, a pen, and an index card. "I'm going to send God an airmail message," Jared explained. "Dear God," wrote Jared, "if you are real, and you are there, send people who know you to Dad and me."
God, I hope you're watching, Joe thought, as they watched the balloon and message sail away.
Two days later, Joe and Jared pulled into a car wash sponsored by Sjogren's church. When Joe asked, "How much?" Sjogren answered, "It's free. No strings attached. We just want to show God's love in a practical way."
"Are you guys Christians, the kind of Christians who believe in God?" Joe asked.
Sjogren said, "Yes, we're that kind of Christians." From that encounter, Steve led Joe to faith in Christ. Many people may be only one act of kindness from meeting a true Christian. - Tom Lundeen in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
c. Even Jesus equated works as evidence of what lies inside each of us.
d. So much so that faith and works were connected: (James 2:14) “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” The implied answer of course is “no.”
ILLUS: It has been said that separating faith and works is like separating the heat and light from a candle. You know both are produced by the candle. You know they are not the same thing. You also know you cannot separate them. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
5. That is an awesome responsibility!
6. Church is not just about worshipping God by a few songs and a sermon; it is also just as much about spurring each other on to love and do good works to give witness to the powerful change that has taken place in our lives, lives once ruled by self, selfishness, and sin.
B. Powerful! Heb. 10:24b
1. A Christian or community of Christians who are set on fire to love others, and to do good will be a community or church that doesn’t have a hard time attracting others to join in.
2. The power of the Gospel is reflected through our love and those actions of love.
3. So much so that Paul said to the Corinthians that even if we had supernatural abilities and supernatural gifts but did not have love we would be at best making a bunch of useless and powerless noise!
a. Discipleship is not just “learning” Scripture, it is “living” Scripture!
b. Even sinners have a hard time rejecting “good” people!
4. This is not to be confused with goodness to earn God’s favor, it is not that! It is goodness for God’s sake!
ILLUS: A converted cowboy put it very well when he said, "Lots of folks that would really like to do right think that serving the Lord only means shouting themselves hoarse praising His name. Now I'll tell you how I look at that. I am working for Jim here. Now if I would do nothing but sit around the house telling what a good fellow Jim is and singing songs to him, I would not suit Jim. But when I buckle on my straps and hustle among the hills and see that Jim's herd is all right, not suffering for water and feed, or being driven off the range and branded by cow thieves, then I am serving Jim as he wants to be served." Let that be our philosophy, too, when the temptation is to talk instead of serving the Lord. – Source Unknown
a. To be ambassadors of love to a suffering world, to do good to even those who would despitefully use us, that is power.
b. The early church thrived though it was persecuted harshly because the early believers kept love in their hearts for sinners, and kept good works as the normal outflow of everything they did.
c. When the
5. The path to revival in America isn’t just some catchy campaign or large coliseum event, it is more about us “provoking” one another on to love and good works.
6. So “LET US…!”
CONCLUSION: To impact the world for Christ will require us to consider how we can spur or provoke one another on toward love and good works. This does not cause faith to be brought down to the level of “good works” – rather it elevates good works to the level of faith! The existence of God’s love is so powerful that it can’t help but act in a positive way to others. Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”