Are you encouraging others to endure to the end?
You -- if you are a follower of Jesus -- are God's gift to others as they seek to endure to the end in the Christian faith.
It's true. Indeed, God is the One who keeps us secure for eternity after He saves us through the blood of His Son, but He also has made the encouragement we offer a gracious means to that end for our brothers and sisters. Encouragement is not flashy. It typically doesn't draw attention to itself. It doesn't seem to be highly coveted among Christians. But it is one of the most important ministries in a church. It can even be vital to finishing the race set before us.
The letter to the Hebrews carries a particular focus on the perseverance of the saints. In it, we see the significance of encouragement in that process.
For instance, the writer of Hebrews says, "[E]ncourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13).
In this admonition, we find we all are to encourage -- or exhort, as it also can be translated -- each other habitually ("day after day") and punctually ("as long as it is still called 'Today'"). The purpose of our encouragement is so none of us "will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Encouragement can help protect us from the effect of sin's duplicity.
Later in the letter, the writer again calls for the saints to encourage one another. Based on Christ ushering us into the presence of God and serving as our priest, we are to "consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Our encouragement is to be planned ("consider how"). We each should ask ourselves: How can I motivate others in their love and good works?
One way we do this is by gathering together with them. Corporate worship -- "not forsaking our own assembling together" -- serves as a means to encourage others. Presence produces encouragement. Absence negates encouragement, at least on that occasion and in that setting. When we meet as the church, we have the opportunity to encourage not only by our presence but by our words. Encouragement certainly takes place outside corporate worship, but we are thinking unbiblically if we minimize the encouragement that occurs in corporate worship.
In our church's corporate worship, encouragement can occur when we sing loudly enough for others to hear, when we offer praises to God aloud, when we express thanks to God aloud for the saving work of His Son.
Encouragement also can take place when we tell a brother or sister of the evidences of God's grace we see in their lives, when we identify for them the marks of Christ-likeness we recognize in them, when we write them a note affirming their growth as a disciple of Jesus.
Don't delay. Encourage a fellow pilgrim. It might help them endure to the end.
-- Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash