I really liked the idea of Amy DeBurgh's hyper-ellipticized post Hit Me...........Sister!
Amy starts out thus:
My friend called me this morning and said, "Slap Me!" This is godly wife terminology for "remind me of what God expects of me today." Hit me with the hard words so I can be like Christ today. Are your friends like that? Are you like that? Do you purposefully put yourself in the place of learning and growing.....or do you belong to the mutual admiration society?As you'd see if you read the post (which I do recommend), Amy does love her looong ellipses...........a lot! But her point is solid-gold, and made me think of Hebrews 10:24, which fairly literally reads "and let us closely consider one another, for the purpose of provocation of love and of good works."
That noun "provocation" is paroxusmos, whence our "paroxysm." It's an odd word to find used thus; it is usually negative, of a sharp disagreement (Acts 15:39), or indignation (Deuteronomy 29:28 and Jeremiah 32:37 in the Septuagint).
It isn't particularly gentle. It's a jab, a poke, a prod -- a slap.
I love that Amy says that this is "godly wife terminology." What a great attitude; what self-awareness it shows, and what a Godward heart. I'm sure we've all known of women who become ingrown in their self-pity, and isolate themselves from all that might give a godly perspective that might change everything. (I wrote a little tool years ago, which may be of some use to women who actually don't have anyone like that available.)
But of course, women have no corner on this market. The dangers of Proverbs 12:15 and 26:12 are not gender-specific. Men need this ministry just as much, in our own ways. I remember a conversation with a pastor-friend, when I was in a slump of misery about something. What he said to me was friendly, loving -- and very bracing, not unlike a slap of cologne on a freshly-shaved face. But it was I needed to hear, to connect what I believed as a Christian, with how I needed to view and approach the situation. It provoked me to love and good works.
Are you anyone's friend enough to give a needed slap (Proverbs 27:6)?
Are you wise enough both to accept such a jolt (Proverbs 15:32b), better still to invite and welcome one (Psalm 141:5)?
Or do you make sure to remain aloof from the very possibility (Proverbs 15:12)?
It all will ultimately come down to our life's orientation: selfward, or Godward. For the Christian, that question was supposed to be settled at conversion. It is still impossible to serve two masters.