Summary: Let’s provoke one another to do good works and not to bring a division.
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Pastor James May
PROVOKE THE BRETHREN
Hebrews 10:22-25, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
Why do we come to church? For most people, their first answers are that we come together to worship Jesus and to hear his word ministered to us. These are two very good reasons but there is a third reason that I want to bring to you in this message.
We come together to provoke one another to continue in serving the Lord. At least that’s what we are supposed to do.
All too often I see Christians come together for another kind of provoking. We seem to love to take a free shot at our brother or sister in Christ because if we put down on them or make them lose face, then it somehow makes us look bigger and better, at least in our own eyes.
Now there is nothing wrong with having fun or enjoying one another’s company but no one likes criticism, even constructive criticism. If someone asks you how to you like the way they are dressed, or the way they have combed their hair, or the class they have taught, they really don’t want to know the truth, especially if the truth will hurt. They just want to hear the praise and agreement and to be accepted as they are.
If you don’t like the way I dress, who asked you? If you don’t like the way I preach, take it up with the Lord. If you don’t like the way our special singers or musicians sound, then pray for them and praise them, don’t criticize them.
Now I haven’t noticed much in the way of criticism in the past month or so, but for a while, criticism was the order of the day. There wasn’t a service that passed without a critical spirit raising its ugly head to bring a division. The criticism was meant to bring about an improvement but, instead, it nearly always drives a wedge of hurt feelings and will hinder the growth of the church.
The problem is that we don’t come together in the right spirit and with our hearts prepared to edify one another.
It’s not enough just to come together. Hebrews 10:25 says this, “we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in the name of Jesus”. But we are not to just come together for sake of assembling at the church. There has to be some other criteria that are met before our “assembling” can have its proper effect.
…Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water…
I am convinced that if we would only draw near to God before we draw near to one another that there would be far less of the wrong type of provocation in the church.
A heart that is fully assured of its relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is at peace within and thus will be of a more amiable nature toward those who are without.
I wonder just how much of our complaining, griping, provoking, joking and putting down of one another is the outward sign of an inward heart that isn’t quite where it needs to be in the Lord.
It seems that too many people don’t feel good about themselves and they focus that feeling of inadequacy into their treatment of others.
The heart needs to be “sprinkled from an evil conscience”. This doesn’t mean that we need to take a shower. (I hope we do this anyway!) Natural water cannot cleanse the heart or clear the conscience of its condemnation. The sprinkling spoken of here is the sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus upon the doorposts of our hearts so that the sin can be cleansed. Once the sin is forgiven and washed away, then the conscience can be clear and we can come together with our motives right.