Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Stir Up One Another

Dear Resurrection,

The poker is my favorite fireplace tool. Sometimes you get a hollow place starting to grow in the middle of a stack of logs. That stack is burning from within, and as it burns, the fire eats away at the middle of the stack. The key to a good fire is to have the logs stacked closely together so they keep each other hot. That’s why when you see the fire dying down, you grab the poker, and you stir it up. You get those pieces of wood to fall towards each other so that one feeds off the heat of the other and the fire blazes up again.

Hebrews 10:24 says that God’s people are supposed to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” I grinned inside when I looked up the Greek original for “stir up,” which is the word paroxysmon. “Let us consider one another unto a paroxysm of love and good works!” The NIV says, “spur one another on.” The King James has “provoke one another”! Often this Greek word is used for an outburst of conflict and anger, but in this case, it’s a paroxysm for good. We’re to provoke one another, not to anger, but to love and service.

So, how do Christians stir each other up? You might think at first of a football team getting all pumped up, like that “left side, strong side!” scene from Remember the Titans. But of course, what Hebrews is talking about isn’t something that depends on lots of sweat and testosterone. It depends instead on God’s people coming together in God’s presence to have God’s word mobilize them by the power of God’s Spirit to believe God’s gospel and go out to do God’s work. The very next verse in Hebrews 10 says how we’re to “stir up one another”: by “not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:25).

Grace-Based Action Point

Corporate worship is not just a collection of individuals; it’s a place for our individual embers to combine into a flame that is hotter and brighter than the sum of the parts. When we sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” we are not just speaking to the Lord; we are also “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). So, the next time you come to worship, don’t just think individually. Instead, think, “I’m here (in part) to stir up my brothers and sisters in Christ, and for them to stir up me to love and good works.”

Let’s grow as a congregation in stirring each other up to love and good works. Help each other stay committed to obedience (Hebrews 3:13) by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and living out the truth in action (1 John 3:18) whenever the brother or sister next to you needs to be admonished or encouraged or helped (1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:20).

Any coal by itself, no matter how hot, will go out if it is alone. God has thrown you together in the church to keep each other warm, to maintain that flame of love for God that the Holy Spirit has kindled in your heart. So don’t expect each other to go it alone. Go get a gospel poker, and “stir up one another to love and good works.”

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons