Provocation. When I see or hear that word I immediately think of anger and frustration. Unfortunately, it’s something we've all had experience with. When was the last time someone provoked you? When was the last time you provoked someone? I have a sister who’s six years younger than I am. When we were young, she had an incredible ability to throw a fit. It was really quite a gift, spiritual almost. There would be times that my mother would sit my sister in her room to throw her fit without an audience. Being the good brother that I am, I would wait for my mother to walk away then I would stand in my sister’s doorway and tease her. It would make her throw an even bigger fit. I would mock her and make fun of her till I almost couldn't stand up because I was laughing so hard. One of my parents would always come back down the hall and get on to her even more for being that out of control. By that point, of course, I had already run back into my room and was acting like nothing had happened. I was provoking my sister, in the worst way, to anger and frustration. I and my actions were the perfect example of the dictionary entry above.
There’s a note card hanging on the refrigerator at our house. Hebrews 10:24 is written on it. It’s a verse uses the same word we’re talking about. It looks like this:
Some translations use ‘spur’ or ‘urge’ in place of ‘provoke’ but if you read the original language then you’ll realize this is the correct word. The other word we need to pay attention to in this verse is ‘consider’. I bet if I gave you just five minutes you would have no problem thinking of someone who provokes you and exactly what they do to do so. It’s commonly referred to as “pushing someone’s buttons”. We all know someone who does this to us. We all know someone we do this to. Why does this happen? Because people have watched us and they have come to understand what it takes to light us up. You and I have done this very thing to other people as well. That very idea is what this word ‘consider’ means.
So the big question is this: How do we do what Hebrews 10:24 tells us to do? It’s easy to figure out how to push someone’s buttons, right? That doesn’t take much for most people. I would submit to you that this is a little harder. It requires more than a casual relationship, more than a few surface conversations. So what DOES it require then? The answer will be different for everyone you know. My first reaction to my own statement is “I have to do that for everyone I know? A’int nobody got time for that!” I think, though, that this is a part of what Paul meant when he told the Corinthians to “give themselves fully to the work of the LORD”. I might be wrong. I’m usually not. :-)
Thoughts? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?