By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.
The Christian life is hard.
I know I’m not shocking you right now, but it isn’t easy to be a Christian. We are constantly at war. Mainly against our own flesh (1 Peter 2:11), but the enemy is constantly prowling around like a roaring lion seeking who he might devour as well (1 Peter 5:8).
On top of that, we live in a world filled with other selfish people. Most people around us are ensnared by the devil, captured by him to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26). They are viciously pursuing self-fulfillment, and most hate it when Christians speak up against sin.
Most Christians are experiencing trials left and right. When we are not in a trial, we are either recently coming out of one or soon going to be experiencing one. Most young parents are overwhelmed with the responsibility of parenthood, some young people are struggling to find contentment in their current job or relationship status, some older parents are discouraged over their children or may be struggling in their marriage relationship and some seniors are struggling through coping with their failing bodies and so many other things. In other words, life is just plain hard.
Sure, there are lots of joys, and complaining is silly considering that we deserve hell, but because we live in the flesh and because Heaven sometimes feels so far away, it isn’t easy to cope with our lives.
So what do we do? How do we thrive throughout these difficulties?
Well, one way, the writer of Hebrews says, is by surrounding ourselves with believers who encourage us. He says in Hebrews 10:25,
Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
This is the famous don’t skip church verse but listen, we must remember that if we are going to enter into the Sunday morning assembly together, we must bring our encouragement hat with us.
That’s what the people around us need, and that’s what we need.
What’s fascinating about this verse is that our encouragement should increase as time goes on. The writer says that it should increase all the more as the day of the Lord’s return nears.
That means that next Sunday you should be a little more encouraging than the week before. And even more then next Sunday, and even more the Sunday after that.
Sometimes the opposite is true. As we get more comfortable around each other, and as we get more comfortable in a certain place, we tend to become more critical. We quickly blow things out of proportion and end up growing in our discouragement of others. But the writer of Hebrews is looking at his contemporaries of the first century and telling them to grow in their encouragement.
Here we are two thousand years later and the question must be asked, how we are doing with our encouragement? We are two thousand years closer to the Lord’s return, so that means we should be significantly more encouraging towards one another.
The church must be an oasis for the true Christian! You must be such a great encouragement that you become a breath of fresh air for those who speak to you. Of course, we should confront sin and push people towards holiness, but when people talk to us they should feel like we care about them and, more importantly, their soul.
Sadly, as life goes on and as time goes on, we can tend to become crankier and less thankful for our salvation, but the writer of Hebrews calls us to be different.
So, the question for you today is, would people around you think of you as an encourager? Do they walk away from a conversation with you spiritually enriched and closer to Christ? Do you have a selfless mindset when you come to church?
It is imperative that we adopt this mindset and that, even as times get more and more hostile towards true believers, we learn to grow in our encouragement for the sake of our own good and the good of others. And by the way, when unbelievers visit and hear about the way we love and encourage each other, the Bible says that they will become jealous (in a good way) and some will even become christians!
The church should be the most encouraging place on earth, and it all starts with you.
Jordan is the pastor of evangelism at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He has a wife named Jenny and 4 children, Davide, Matteo, Nico and Gabriella.