I had the opportunity to teach Sunday School class at a church near an Army base. As I spoke about Christ's example of helping those in need, I commented on the fact that we all have needs. People everywhere are hurting. You know them, though you may not even know of their pain.
The ice broke. It was a blessing to see that people were getting the fact that each person around us has needs. Sometimes the needs are blatant. Often the needs are covered over by the smokescreen of pride. Because the needs are masked over, the needs go unmet and the pain goes on day after day. I recently sat in a class at church where a man revealed some of the day-in day-out, real pain that was going on in his marriage and with his children. Many of us in the class didn't even know what to say, not because we were shocked at the greatness of his need, but because he had boldly stated that he needed our prayers and help. We just don't do that! What a shame that our pride so hinders God's plan of using others to minister to our needs. God speaks of His desire for us in our ministry to one another in Hebrews 10:24 when He writes "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works."
Notice first that the writer is telling each of us to "consider." It is not just the pastor's job to do the considering. This isn't a professional's task. It is each person's responsibility to understand what is going on in the lives of the people around them.
Second, this issue is dealt with on a linear basis. We are all equals. As people we all need others looking out for us and helping us with our needs and problems. It is normal to need counsel. God tells us in Proverbs (1:5, 7; 11:14; 19:20; etc.) that only a fool tries to live life on his own understanding, with no outside counsel. Beginning in the garden in Genesis we see that people need wise counsel so they don't "lean on their own understanding" and fall.
Third, this command requires action to complete. Each of us must be provoking (prodding) others. As a child I learned that a cattle prod (an electrical gadget that produces a high voltage shock) provides enough impetus to move an 1800 pound bull into the corral. (I might add that it can really make an armadillo move also!) I am not saying that we need to go out and buy a cattle prod, but we must have the guts and humility, and time to approach a person and prod them, provoking (encouraging) them toward God's answers for life. Finally, when it comes to helping a person with their needs, your opinions may have a place, but people always need God's opinion. Though we should certainly use our own life experiences as a testimony of God's work in our lives, the best prod we could use is Scripture. We must be prepared by knowing how to point them to God's way of life and Biblical principles that will help them answer their problems and needs. As God says in verse 24, "provoke unto love and good works."
God gives us Christ as the greatest example of how He wants us to reach out and help others with their needs. We are to focus our time on showing people that we care, and focus our minds on understanding one another so that we are able to help one another through daily life. The command is to learn about (consider) the person so that you can prod (encourage) them on to love (giving) and good works (glorifying God by obedience to His commands). Whether at home, at work, at school or church--wherever you are with people--reach out. Search for opportunities to bring the hope of God to the needy people all around us.