“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24.
When this popped up in a daily reading last week, it hit me by surprise. I had gotten used to Paul telling us to love, to care for one another and to keep God’s laws. But with this one little sentence (actually, it’s less than that; verse 24 is just one part of a longer sentence), Paul takes the practice of Christianity into a whole new arena. It’s fine to love and to love one another. But Paul argues that we also need to encourage one another, to “stir up” one another. In doing that, we magnify the love and charity that is Christian living.
Isn’t this the part of Christianity that Jesus was talking about when He said that Christians would be known by the love they have for one another? We show love for one another not only in our actions, but in our encouragement, our prodding, and the example that we set for each other. We know this is true in our own lives. When we see others being helpful, kind and thoughtful, it “stirs” us to be a little more kind, a little more thoughtful, a little better person. And, like ripples in a pond, one act of goodness creates another and another and another.
So, let’s consider how we do it. Through words of encouragement and suggestions? I suppose so. An “atta boy” here or a “you go girl” there can help boost someone who needs an extra hand to overcome their most recent world-hurdle. But doesn’t it seem that even more often we can be just as inspired by someone’s thoughtful actions? I think silent stirring is some of the best stirring. We don’t have to call someone to action, take someone to task or give someone a shout-out. Let our Christianity show itself in what we do, in how we behave, in how we love. Lead by example, love by example, inspire by example.
The beauty of silent stirring is that there’s no room for misinterpretation. An act of kindness is an act of kindness and the less said about it the better. We can’t be wordsmiths all the time and most of us will never be as eloquent as C.S. Lewis or Mother Teresa. But it’s hard to stumble or be misunderstood when you hold the door for someone; or smile; or shovel your neighbor’s walk.
Here’s a thought for the week. Let’s keep Paul’s little tidbit of advice by our side and think about it daily. Meditate on it if meditation’s part of your daily devotion. If not, just ponder it. Repeat it a few times and ask yourself what Paul is asking you: How can I stir someone up today to love and good works?