I am all in favor of a good, old-fashioned debate. I can remember sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table heatedly debating predestination with my cousin when I was in junior high. I love it. I love to challenge the interpretations and the wrestlings of many theological issues. I love to study and debate, sharpen and scrutinize. Yes, I can be fun to have around but I must watch myself in many social settings. I have learned to smile and ask about movies and stay away from predestination at most dinner parties.
I love the passage of scripture where in Hebrews 10:24 he calls us “to consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” A few weeks ago one of the pastors at our church was preaching on this verse and I began to see it on a whole new light. The greek word means “to provoke unto.” It is an inciting, incitement. It can also mean an irritation. I know I have been this one before–an irritation (in the most biblical sense, of course.)
The author in these verses (22-25) is inviting us to do a couple of things in these “let us” statements:
Let us . . . draw near – instead of drifting away
Let us . . . hold fast – not wavering in trials
Let us . . . consider – how we may spur one another on
Now I am just trying to come up with a way to create a biblical command allowing me be an irritation to others. Iisn’t that so like us, to use the bible to support our way of thinking?
Let me see if I can show you how I think this verse played out over the weekend. My parents were in town and somehow my dad and I ended up being the only two people here at the house. We began to discuss the different aspects of the christian walk from helping the poor to what missions should look like in our local church. (In case you are unfamiliar, there seems to have risen a red hot battle between people over our duty in these areas.) Heavy, I know. I come from a long line of southern baptists and dinner talk is regularly discussing the ends and outs of cooperative programs, committees, predestination, just to name a few. I will forever be grateful for the christian heritage I was able to sit next to at many dinner tables. My dad and I got to sit down and hash out different viewpoints. Was it stressful at moments? Yes. Was there some irritation? Yes. Did we talk reasonably through many biblical commands? Yes. Did we laugh? Yes. Did we cry? Yes. Did I learn something I didn’t know or think of previously? Yes. Did he learn something about my heart and desire for the poor and missions. I sure hope so. Please hear me. One thing I am starting to see–most of us all want the same thing. I am starting to see that the more I dive into these “discussions,” the more I see that we are all striving for the same goal. We are on the same team. I will stop now before giving some cheesy team illustration or sing “Kumbaya.”
I firmly believe we should be having these conversation more often. I think one generation reacts from another generation and it results in huge swings and shifts. This can be good and is often needed but I think we have moved to a dangerous ground when we pick up our flag for our cause and move ahead in full frontal assault without clear direction and counsel. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” The generation before us has much wisdom and we would be wise to take heed of that counsel. Learning to see the benefits that have been entrusted to us by the former generation will be a huge step. The fact of the matter is, if it wasn’t for the previous generation, we would not have the funds to feed the poor or support the missionaries. Let’s be thankful for where that generation has brought us. (I do realize that this is not entirely a generational thing and there are many reasons why we choose what “side” we are going to be on but by and large, this has been a generational issue. So humor me a bit.)
I Timothy shows us one example of Paul exhorting Timothy that we must use our gifts that God has given us to do, what I believe, is a mighty work in our generation. Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on your youth but what . . . “Set An Example.”
We have all heard it, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary, use words.”
Paul states in I Timothy 4:12-16″Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and teaching closely. Persevere in them, because by doing so, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
These commands pack a punch for us younger folk:
Set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, in purity
Devote yourself to public reading of the scripture, to preaching, to teaching
Do not neglect your gift
Be diligent in these matters – give yourself wholly to them WHY? so that everyone may see your progress
Watch your life and your teaching closely
Persevere in them
The main gist of this – stop telling everyone what they should be doing and you yourself go out and do it! When we do this, our lives will be such a testament to WHO HE is. Words won’t be necessary.
I just realized that I might have argued myself out of the main point I was trying to make. HA! I started out wanting to show us how important it is right now to get in the trenches together and fight together, to spur one another on. Not one of us has “got IT” here on this earth. We need each other! In my simplistic mind, I think if we get together and share our hearts with one another and patiently explore all that God is calling us to do, we are all going to learn and be challenged and “spurred on” to love and good works. Then, we can sit in a circle together and sing “kumbaya!”