Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s still true. We all have different things to endure. Currently, I’m dealing with some health issues. One of them is going to take months to resolve, but that is nothing compared to a lifetime as a quadriplegic. When you get discouraged by physical challenges just type “joni eareckson tada” in Google and begin reading. I’m certain you’ll be encouraged.
It seems clear that the book of Hebrews is written to encourage a church that is suffering and considering quitting. The writer provides a practical prescription for just such a time.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV)
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. The writer of Hebrews has been doing everything possible to convince us that whatever we are going through we can endure. Beyond that we can flourish and thrive. The whole purpose of our being cleansed is to enable us to be the body of Christ in our community by loving and doing good regardless of our circumstances.
Maybe our approach on Sunday mornings needs to change. It is natural to focus on what we’re struggling with and I’m no different. What if instead we began asking each other about the good works that God has done through us the past week and the opportunities for good works that are coming in the week ahead? Beyond that, we have tools available that allow us to easily connect throughout the week. We can gather and stir up anytime.
The word translated “stir up” in the ESV is used only one other place in the New Testament. In Acts 15:39 it is used to describe the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas that led to their going separate ways. The lexicon defines the word in the positive sense as incitement, encouragement, or stimulation. In a negative sense as sharp argument, provocation, or sharp disagreement. It is a strong word. I recognize that I don’t appreciate it when someone encourages me to do something I’m not confident I can do. I know I need to grow in my appreciation for that encouragement.
I’ve had some challenges this week. I’m blessed to have a wife, and elder at church, and a pastor who have all encouraged me. Who can you encourage? Who do you need to stir up?