Exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)
This verse brought me up short this morning. I know it BY heart from a long ag0 stint in AWANAs–but I’m not sure I’ve ever taken it TO heart…especially the daily part. Daily. It’s not even a suggestion, but a command–exhort (encourage) one another daily. Not weekly (i.e. church on Sunday), not even bi-weekly (Wednesday evening prayer service), but d-a-i-l-y.
Do I do that?
I spent a good while trying to come up with what this daily exhortation might look like in my life…and I have to admit, I’m feeling a little scared right now. I mean, come on. DAILY?! Do you even know what this could do to my phone bill?!?!
Here are some rudimentary thoughts:
The purpose of this daily exhortation among believers is to strengthen faith in and communion with God (verse 12), to flee from sin rather than be deceived by it (vs 13) and to be found in Christ to the end (vs 14). As such, it is not merely encouragement that makes others feel good but rather that which cheers them on toward victory in this fight of faith (which may or may not make them feel good).
I can start by exhorting daily those with whom I already interact on a day to day basis. For me, this includes at minimum Tim and Pop. For you, it might be Christian parents, siblings, spouse, children, neighbors, students, or co-workers.
Closely related to the command to “Exhort one another daily” are the words “if you will hear His voice” in Hebrews 3:7 and 15. We hear His voice through His Word. Thus, family devotions are a key way to exhort each other daily. What a good reminder to me of their importance, as too often I’m tempted to either a) resent them or b) push them out of the schedule when we’re short on time.
In this day and age, it is NOT too difficult (nor time consuming) to sow seeds of Biblical encouragement beyond the home. I “see” people whom I haven’t seen in years every day on facebook. It takes me 30 seconds to pop them a quick message or write on their wall. Through e-mail and blogs, I have the same type of quick access to a host of God’s people. I carry my cell phone with me almost 24-7. I’ll bet I could find time for a quick call to someone every day (like maybe when I’m fixing supper or cleaning up the kitchen after lunch). No, the problem is not ease of access. The problem, I’m sad to report, is depth of subject. When I interact on facebook, by e-mail, as a blog-commenter, by phone, or even face to face–so often the depth of my communication puts me to shame. Whatever may be my motivation for my interaction, I’m usually not thinking about how I can encourage this friend in Christ. In fact, it takes work and it takes courage for me to talk to people (even Christian people) about “real” issues. Oh, sometimes it will ‘just happen’ all nice and naturally…but most of the time, I’ve got to make the conversation take a deeper turn. And (oh, horror) not only that, but it means I’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable myself…to admit that I, too, need others to minister encouragement to my soul. There are few things I dread more than admitting weakness…but when I am weak, then am I strong.
Pop got a letter yesterday from a former parishoner of a church he pastored many years ago. The man wrote to tell Pop how his ministry all those years ago had been a constant source of blessing in his life even up to this very day. I can’t even tell you how encouraged Pop was by that note–and by the reminder that even at 86, he is still being used and useful in God’s kingdom. It got me thinking: there are lots of people who have been used of God to bless me both past and present. Do I remember to thank them?
Finally, I was just struck by how important a thing this must be, to require DAILY attention. Perhaps that shows I’ve been deceived by sin already–deceived into minimizing both its impact and the importance of faith in my day to day living. It is SO EASY for me to become lulled into a false sense of confidence in my walk with God. I’m doing just fine. I don’t need daily exhortation. Satan’s not after me. I don’t love the world. I don’t see it as my home. I’m not building up treasure here. I don’t need to be exhorted to keep my eyes on Christ. Yada-yada-YADA. What a bunch of self-deceptive B.S. THIS IS WAR, CRISTY. Don’t think you can keep treating it like a walk in the park.
Well, those are some beginning thoughts. If any of you have walked this road ahead of me, I’d really, REALLY appreciate your help. Have you wrestled with these things before? If so, how do you practice the command to “exhort one another daily”? What do you think it means? How do you keep from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin in a world that constantly tries to undermine our trust in Christ and pull us away from Him?