The ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. – Hosea 14:9
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24
As I consider these two verses (from the Moravian Daily Bible text email I receive) I must ask, “How can I provoke you, dear reader, to love and good deeds?”
God’s ways are confounding to the transgressors. Those who live apart from his truth and ignore his claim on their lives will ever consider his ways wrong, troublesome, difficult, and confounding. God’s ways are truly not the ways of the world. So how is someone who is far from God to hear, understand, believe in and follow God?
So I hope to provoke you to begin simply by recognizing that you cannot do perfectly the very thing God demands, but in that awareness to come closer to him, rather than move farther away. That is what repentance is all about. Turning away from our own willfulness and failure to obey God, to God for his grace and help to walk in his ways.
This is not a need only for the heathen. We’re all transgressors – else if we weren’t why would Jesus teach us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses…”. We need God’s help to follow in his ways.
God provides that help through other followers of Jesus. They spur us on (provoke us) to love and good works? Sometimes that seems pesky and intrusive. Sometimes it is unwelcome.
The question for you is what will that incessant Jesus-follower provoke in you? Will you turn farther away from God? Will you stumble your way through life in disobedience? Or will you come near to God, and seek his grace and help?
Next time someone urges you to stay the course, to follow God, to obey his word, and follow his ways, thank God for him. He may be provoking. She may seem unwelcome. If that, however, brings you back to the path of God, she or he is doing you an eternal favor, and obeying God’s command.