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Provoke unto Love

July 10th, 2013

Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works…

Hebrew 10:24

The word “provoke” is a sharp word, normally associated with anger. We provoke another person to lose his temper, or to wrath and disdain. Yet the word appears in God’s word associated with love. The whole effort of our personalities, words and actions is to be directed toward another not to anger him or to rile him but to motivate him to love.

In our fallen nature we can easily slip into a confrontational stance. The so-called “flee or fight” instinct, that even the most base animals have, can be dominant and we can display it toward one another. But it is specifically the command of our Lord to love our enemies, to do good to them who use us and abuse us. And it is His desire that we stop the retaliation and negative patterns of reaction between us and others. The mature Christian is always looking for ways the love of Christ may display itself among men, and ways that the kingdom of God may exist on this earth.

Some people irritate us for various reasons. A man who talks too much, or does not talk enough, a person who reminds us of someone unpleasant in our past, or anyone who seems to personify our own weaknesses – these are often unwitting tools to annoy. We can subconsciously attach too much of our own history of interacting with others to another person’s personality and taint them in our own mind as dangerous.

And, of course, others may treat us the same way. We are often, without any fault of our own, unjustly misunderstood and judged and ostracized by others. And, our faults are often magnified in their minds, just as we magnify theirs in ours.

But by the Spirit we are to see each other differently. The grace of God in Christ is to so cover our perspective of others, that we see every believer as someone deeply loved by the Father, someone we are to love as our brother or sister, even those who do not love us. Our words and reactions with them are not to provoke anger, to exchange hurtful words, but to “provoke unto love.” The saddest Christian is the one who is unwilling to put aside his personal agenda to take up the agenda of God. The most joyful Christian is the one who is able to let the will of God override his own personal preferences, even to the point that there is no passive-aggressive jab pointed at another person.

Love has the potential to change us, more than anything else – and, as with all Christian graces, it is more blessed to give love than to receive love.

Is there someone you struggle to love, perhaps to even tolerate? Join the club! We all have someone like that, as some people view us similarly. Bu by the grace of God, in communication with His Spirit, and in meditation on His word and on His grace, He will enable us to act in grace toward one another. Provoke someone today to love instead of to anger. Love someone in grace today. Give them what they do not deserve – which is what grace is – and see what God will do with your influence – what He will do in your heart to understand more greatly His love for you, as well as what He will do in the heart of the other person.

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