Our pastor preached a great message today that stirred me up about this particular subject.
He mentioned the importance of each of us spurring each other on, encouraging one other to be and do all God has for us.
“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:22 MSG)
As he spoke, I got a mental picture of spurs. Not the basketball team, but the kind worn by true horse riding, cattle driving, steer branding, cowboys.
And what a horse must feel when they’re being “encouraged” to run faster.
My dad grew up around horses. I understand he was an excellent rider, and even competed in regional rodeos throughout the midwest. Thus, the reason for a pair of boot spurs hanging in our garage.
Of course, as an inquisitive teenager, and as someone who loved attention, and since I wore cowboy boots (the rock star thing to do back then), I decided to wear the spurs to school one day. I loved stomping down the crowded hallway during passing period. Ching-ching-ching, was the sound I made with every step. I was finally instructed to remove them and put them in my locker, but I was a regular Matt Dillon for a while.
Back to the “spurring one another on”.
We’re instructed to provoke one another, or spur them on to love and good works. I like the word provoke, because it makes me think of the word “poke”, or prod.
To be the one wearing the spurs is one thing; to be spurred or poked is something entirely different. No one enjoys being poked. That’s why some people resent encouragement at times. It can be painful if someone’s trying to get you to move forward in God by poking at areas in your life which may be a little raw.
That’s why both the encourager, and the one receiving the encouragement, need to be aware of the potential irritations.
The rider’s goal is to coax the horse to move. If a little touch will produce the desired results, then there is no need to slam the spur into the horse’s flank; or the person’s heart.
If you’re the one bring spurred, understand the motive behind the action. Though you may feel the prick, the purpose is to get you moving in the right direction. It may irritate initially, but afterward it should yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Compare the idea of spurring one another with another passage of scripture, this one from Proverbs.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)
Have you ever worked around a grinding wheel? As the stone wheel turns at a high rate of speed, the item to be ground is placed against the stone. Sparks fly, dust is stirred up, and minute pieces of metal are thrown every which way, just as soon as the metal bumps against the wheel.
That’s what happens as iron sharpens iron. Though the end result is usually worth the dirty effort, it still requires a time of discomfort.
We need to understand this, even so much more now as we approach the coming of the Lord.
Our enemy would like to keep us from wearing our spurs, because it might make people uncomfortable if we’re always talking with them about their walk with God.
And if WE’RE the ones receiving the “poke”, well, the enemy wants us to feel extra touchy. “How DARE they talk to me like that!”
Encouragement can be a messy, often misunderstood business. But without it, how else will we see God exalted and the devil defeated in each of our lives?
Let’s strap on our spurs, fix our eyes on Jesus, and be about Kingdom business.
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT)