Pure Provocation

Galatians 5:25-26 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

Advice to a young man starting his first job: “You’re likely to be nervous at first, but don’t let it upset you. I, too, was frustrated, bewildered and subdued. It works like this, so don’t worry: The first year you’re on the staff, you will ask yourself what am I doing here? After a while you will have another question: What are the rest of ’em doing here?”

Paul warns us in his letter to the Galatians of one of the dangers of spiritual development over time: conceit. After encouraging us to walk in the Spirit (under His control, guidance and prompting), Paul directs us to avoid sliding into an empty pursuit of attention and respect from others. It makes us easily irritated and jealous of others in the family of God when we do not receive the praise when something good happens.

A Spirit-focused walk will provoke our spiritual family members to love and service. Rather than creating ill-feeling in others, we will cause those around us to desire another level — a higher place — a purer devotion — in their walk with God.

The writer of Hebrews suggests that we have to think about how to do this. Irritating others requires little effort or forethought. Challenging others to love more… requires deep reflection and openness to the Spirit of God.

Do you consistently rub people the wrong way — or the right way?

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