The King James Version of Hebrews 10:24 reads, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” This version uses the word provoke, a strong word that typically has a negative connotation. I think it was used deliberately in order to make us think. What do we usually provoke from other people? Anger or jealousy. But we are to provoke to “love and to good works.”
The Greek word translated “provoke” is the same word from which the English word paroxysm is derived. Do you know what a paroxysm is? It is an absolutely uncontrollable outburst of emotion, such as anger, or even laughter.
Although the word provoke often suggests something bad, in this context, it is turned to the good, for we are to provoke one another to love and good works. And let me just point out that there are certain people whom you’ll have to provoke if you want them to do the right thing. Moreover, you will have to consider how to provoke them.
This is one of my weaknesses. I don’t like having to consider people’s personalities. With a military background and a rather logical mind, it is sufficient for me just to tell the person to do something. But the Bible tells us to consider how to tell them, because if you want the right result from one person, you have to tell him in quite a different way from the way in which you might tell another person. Anybody who has children knows this is true—you cannot treat them all the same. You can scold one child and get the right result. But if you scold another child, you might just discourage or defeat him.