Stir Up Something!

Hebrews 10:24

Stir up one another to love and good deeds.

There were newlyweds and the groom's parents who were visiting for the first time.
The new daughter-in-law talked with her father-in-law about the leaking, bathroom faucet.
She said that she expected that her new husband would have the faucet fixed in a few days,
and the father-in-law expressed surprise.

So she explained, "I told him I thought we ought to get a plumber because I wasn't sure he could fix it himself.
Now he'll kill himself trying to figure out how to stop that leak."

The father-in-law chuckled to himself and later told his wife,
"That girl's got our son's number, all right!"

Some people are experts at "getting somebody's number."
They know how to get someone to work harder.
Some people know how to "get your goat," and to make you mad.
Some people have a knack for embarrassing us.
Some people know whether it takes shouting or intimidation or tears or promises to get you to back down.
There are ways to "pull one another's strings," or so to speak; ways to "push one another's buttons."

Knowing that we intentionally inspire certain actions in others,
Paul inserts this interesting exhortation into his letter to the Hebrews,
let us try to figure out how to induce others to want to be loving, to want to do good deeds.

What can we say that will arouse their desire to do good deeds?
How do we kindle love and good deeds?

This is the only kind of "stirring up" at the Bible condones in the church family.
We are condemned for stirring up discord, suspicion, and enmity.
But we are truly encouraged to stir up one another to love and good works.

What would it mean for your family if you could cause some grumpy person
to be transformed into a pleasant person?
What would it mean for our friends if we could be instigators in turning critical people into encouragers?
What difference would it make for you at work and at school if somebody knew
have to change negative people into positive people?

Do we want to instigate these kinds of transformations?
Would we if we could?

Paul spent nine chapters in Hebrews on theology, and in chapter 10, he gets to the practical things.
He tells us to make it our goal and aim to provoke one another in a particular directions: love and good works.
Make peace where there is irritation.
Cover one another's faults.
Magnify one another's virtues.

Who among us here today is best at that?
Can you improve your abilities in that area?

There's not a one of us here who could not lift more weight in four weeks that we can today by training.
I may not be able to lift as much weight as somebody else, but if I work at it,
I can get stronger and lift more weight.
If I work at it, I can get better at exciting others to love and good works.
In this message I hope to enable each one of us to do just that.
And that is to learn how to do a better job of provoking others to love and good works.

Consider how awesome is this provoking power in us.
Consider how accountable we are to God for this power.
Consider how alert we should be to use this power for good.

How Awesome Is This Power

This is a divine power.
This is how God relates to us.
Think about it.

Who of us would dare to claim to deserve His love?
Not one!
He provokes us to love and good works.
We don't even know how to pray as we ought, but His Spirit makes intercession for us.
He is constantly at work in us, stirring us up to love His commandments and to walk in His paths.
He has got our number.

One of Job's friends, Eliphaz, page told a tremendous compliment when he said,
"You have strengthened weak hands, your words have helped tottering to stand,
and you have strengthened feeble knees
." (Job 4:3b-4)

Job had the gift of calling forth strength and stability from others.
You and I can have that gift also, if we will ask the Lord for it and work at it.

Read 2 Samuel 15:2-6, and Acts 27:33-36, and ask your self as you read, what's really going on here?
It is important to diagnose and recognize evil stirrings when we see them,
especially when someone is doing that to us.
And it is equally as important to invest our own energies in the stirrings of the godly kind,
motivating others not to enmity and suspension, but rather to love and good deeds.

I read of one who wrote a paper on Winston Churchill.
It is amazing.
He wrote that Churchill was not a likable person!
He was crabby, stubborn, arrogant, and opinionated.
But he had an important and timely gift – the gift of encouragement.
It is questionable whether the English people could have resisted the Nazis,
if it were not for the voice of Winston Churchill on the radio, rousing them up to courage and sacrifice.

We may be likable or not.
We may be as crappy and cynical as anybody here.
But you have the power?

Yes, you!
You have the power to provoke an unkind word or a kind word.
Which do you prefer?

We have the power to stir up a kind look or an ungracious look – which do we prefer?
If you don't have it tonight, in just a few days you could learn to call forth from others
a warm and friendly handshake or a cold, cold touch – which do you prefer?

So what is it going to be?
How shall we use this awesome power that God has given us and wants to increase within us?

We Are Accountable For This Power.

Let's draw a clear distinction, and let's note that every last one of us
can be either like the Pharisees, or like Barnabas.
The Pharisees dogged Paul every step of his Christian ministry, tearing down, casting suspicion,
stirring up hatred and ill will.
Barnabas was a normal, average, every day garden variety kind of person
who always seems to have been encouraging somebody to do something good.
We are accountable for which side of that fence we live on.

Pharisees are like chicken inspectors.
Chicken processing plants have inspectors who look at thousands of chickens a day.
Their job is to find the bad ones and prevent them getting to market.

I read about a chicken inspectors who said, "I've been on this job for eight years,
and I've never seen a good chicken yet.
I'm not paid to see the good ones.
I'm paid to see the bad ones.
So I look for the bad ones, and call attention to them
."

Perhaps, you know some chicken inspectors – people who have never called attention
to anything good in their lives.
All the good things that people say and do around them they just take for granted, and don't even notice it.
But faults, shortcomings, mistakes, and failures are another problem.
They spot them immediately, and call attention to them.
That's a Pharisee.

Don't be a Pharisee!
If you discover that there is a little bit of Pharisee in you, fight it like you fight the flu.
Don't be a Pharisee!

Be a Barnabas.
He was "Mr. Encourager."
He was the one who saw that Paul could do a great work at Antioch.
It was Barnabas who went and got Paul and brought him to Antioch.
They organized the first Christian mission trip ever, and wondered where to do missions.

Barnabas open the door: "Let's go to Cyprus," he said.
When Paul and John Mark fell out, it was Barnabas who encouraged John Mark and help him grow in Christ.
He was "Mr. Encourager."

Our church is blessed to have a few Barnabas – people who seem to just look for opportunities
to stimulate somebody to be more encouraged, more faithful, more loving, and to do more good deeds.

You think God is paying attention to whether I am a chicken inspector or a Barnabas?
Yes, I think He is.
In fact, I am sure of it.

Ephesians says the Lord gave to some the gift of prophecy, and to some the gift of evangelism,
to some pastors and teachers, but don't you think He wants to give to all of us,
every last one of us including you and me, the gift of stirring up others to love and good works?
Yes, I think He does.
In fact, I'm sure of it!

Be Alert To Use This Power For Good.

If an infant pulls off your glasses and sticks her finger in your eye, everybody laughs and says,
"Oh, how cute!"
But if an adult does that, what then?
We expect more of adults.
We expect infants and small children to just do and say what ever comes to mind,
but we expect adults to think about what they say and do.

Whenever we evoke a response from somebody, we need to try to evoke a loving, good-deed kind of response.
When we instigate some action, we want to be thoughtful in advance to be sure
that what ever we instigate is loving and good.

If I find myself provoking in the wrong directions, what then?
I should treat it like a bad virus – and escape it as soon as possible; treat the symptoms;
change my schedule for a time.

A virus that drags on and on is not acceptable.
If I find myself so depressed, or so disgusted, or so angry that for a time I become one
who stirs others up to something other than love and good deeds,
I want to get over that illness just as soon as possible, before it weakens my heart,
or destroys my immune system.

Remember Joseph did.
When his brothers came before him and when his dream had come true and he had power over them?
Remember?

Genesis 50:21 says he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them.
What do you suppose he drew out of them by acting that way?
All too often we act more like Nehemiah:
"So I contended with him and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair."
And then we pray with Nehemiah, "Remember me for good, oh God." (Nehemiah 13:25, 31)

Be alert.
Find a way to bring together those who are not speaking.
Speak hope when others are giving up.
Respond in Christlikeness when someone around us sounds like just another angry heathen.
Ask the Lord to teach us how to motivate grouchy people to be cheerful.
Apply ourselves to learning as how to inspire chicken inspectors to want to be a Barnabas.

When my friend was teaching me to drive, and he said to me, "There Is an accident waiting to happen out there.
Be alert. Don't be in it
."

As we think about our power to kindle actions and words in others, be alert.
Don't be a Pharisee!
Be a Barnabas!

How was it that God went about inciting us to love and good works?
He sent a harmless baby to live a sinless life, to die an unjust death, and to rise from the dead to life eternal.
For many centuries, that story has been stirring up Christians to love and good works in the name of our Lord.

Today, let us resolve to provoke someone to love and good works.
Let us stir them up kindly.
Let us prompt them patiently.
Let us motivate them every day.
Pray about it.
Persevere in it.
God will give us success.
Be a provoker, and instigator, a kindler.

Let us stir up something!

This sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White