Let us condier the Greek word paroxusmos (or paroxysmos), which suggests irritation or provocation. In Hebrews 10, this is not a bad thing. The English derivative is paroxysm, which as a medical term means "a violent increase in the acuteness of a disease; a convulsion or fit." The word appears only three times, and in two different forms, in the New Testament:

* He agape ou paroxunetai. (Love is not irritable, easily provoked, or greatly upset). A verb.
* Egeneto de paroxusmos hoste apochoristhenai autois ap allelon. (There was a sharp disagreement such that Paul and Barnabas separated from one another.) A noun.
* Kai katanoomen allelous eis paroxusmon agapes kai kalon ergon. (And let us consider one another to the provocation of love and good deeds.) A noun.

So, on the one hand, we are not to be easily upset or irritated. Yet on the other (as long as we're showing mutual respect, of course) a little provocation isn't necessarily a bad thing. (Especially when we need it!) Since "spurring one another on" (Hebrews 10:25 NIV) is one of the "one-another" commands, can we afford to withdraw passively into cocoons of uninvolved, passive fellowship? Not at all. We must respect what the word of God clearly tells us.