God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who knew his people well (John 17:25).
We are tempted every day to be more concerned about ourselves than the people we see and associate with. We are also challenged to not look past or ignore the needs of those struggling around us. God forbid that we get so busy and self-absorbed that we forget there are people all around us who are hurting and hiding it. Hebrews 10:24 addresses this problem specifically:
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.
The word “consider” is the Greek word katanoeō, a compound of the words kata meaning down or according to and noeō meaning to use the mind or think. When the two words are compounded the new word means “to think from top to bottom, reaching a conclusion”; “to consider exactly, attentively, and decisively”; “to concentrate by fixing one’s thinking”; or “to understand fully.” It expresses real comprehension ― “thinking decisively to arrive at a definite understanding.” It connotes the idea of mulling something over; carefully contemplating a matter; pondering and carefully looking at a particular issue; or examining and fully studying a subject.
This kind of consideration depicts someone who is so concerned about someone else that he has taken the time to really consider the other person. He has observed the person over a long period of time paying close attention to what helps that person feel encouraged and what things tend to bum him out. This kind of awareness doesn’t come by accident, it requires a determined pursuit.
The next verse commands us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. That’s where a great deal of time can be spent considering each other. Our believer communities should be a loving community where people are vitally concerned about each other’s welfare. In fact, they are constantly observing and contemplating each other to know how to encourage and provoke each other to love and to good works.
Most of you who have children close in age know that provocation is not always positive. The word provoke in Hebrews 10:24 may be describe both negative and positive actions. It’s the Greek word paroxusmos, used only here and in Acts15:39 of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark (translated: contention. . . so sharp). It comes from the root, paroxunō. Paroxunō is also used only twice in Acts 17:16 (was stirred) and I Corinthians 13:5 (easily provoked). They both mean “to sharpen” and are used of stimulation, provocation, irritation, and angry disputes.
Paroxunō is a compound of para, “alongside” indicating closeness and oxys, “a sharp edge.” It literally means “to cut close alongside” and is used of inciting someone and stimulating their emotions. We might use it today to mean “upset” or “roused to anger” or colloquially, of personally “getting to someone.” It indicates someone who has come alongside of someone else for the purpose of prodding and impelling that person to do something.
As already mentioned, it can be used both negatively and positively. Negatively of irritating, angering or enraging, but in Hebrews 10:24, the word “provoking” is telling us that our interaction with one another should stimulate us to become better, stronger, and bolder in the Lord. Of course, the direction is to stimulate each other to walk in love and do good works. When we see someone discouraged or defeated, we can loving jab him and encourage him to hang in there and keep on fighting. We will all need to be provoked at times, no matter what our function is in the Body of Christ. Everyone needs a loving push in the right direction now and then.
Hebrews 10:24 plainly tells us that we should be extremely concerned about each other’s welfare and spiritual growth. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Let’s be real friends and love at all times, even in the midst of the most difficult situations. Our fellowships should be a place of victory where we honestly communicate our trials and triumphs. We won’t be afraid to admit our foibles, when we find love and encouragement when we do so.
There is nothing like living in a positive atmosphere of love and encouragement, even if it comes as a jab in the side at times. Having friends who impart wisdom and strength as they rightly divide the Word of Truth, and being that kind of friend in return builds more-than-a-conqueror believers who labor together in the gospel.
Let’s put in the work required to properly consider one another. That will take spending time together. Perhaps we’ll need to go out of our way to call, visit, or write a note. Let’s develop the habit of personally checking-in and checking-up on each other. I know we are all busy, but considering one another to provoke unto love and to good works will pay off. Just knowing that someone cares enough to check in can make such a difference when we’re going through a difficult time.