Encouraging One Another January 28, 2015

The Anchor of Hope

An e-publication of Living Hope Presbyterian Church
January 28, 2015

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (24) and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (25) 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.

For the first time in many decades, there was no Stillwell reunion. As the last of original members of the Stillwell clan died off, the remaining increasingly distant cousins were tasked with keeping the tradition alive. The fourth Sunday in August meal became an unwelcome interruption in a culture where so many other things compete for our attention, therefore many in the younger generations quit coming. And those who did attend remained in the comfortable confines of their closest relatives. Thus, inconvenience and estrangement finally put an end to a long-time family tradition.

Contrast the above with a new family “tradition.” My wife’s father, a Stillwell on his mother’s side, missed seeing his nieces and nephews. So my wife arranged a family gathering at a local restaurant. Most of them were able to come. Some had not seen each other in many years. And yet, they talked and laughed as if they all had had recent and regular contact with each other.

When we were justified by God, we were also united with Christ. This union not only means we each became a member of His family, but also that we are now in the same spiritual family. This relationship is just as real as any physical relationship. Thus, when we come together to worship, we are in effect participating in a family reunion. But what type of reunion is it? The former one, where it is not a priority and you remain distant from the other family members? Or the latter one, where the relationships are, on the whole, vital and alive?

The author of the book of Hebrews commands us “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” How? One way, he tells us, is the encouragement we receive each time we come together for worship. We receive encouragement when we pray for others and when we know others are praying for us. We gain encouragement by sharing our burdens with one another. We are encouraged when others use their gifts by serving the congregation. The pastors are encouraged when they see people who have come to hear God’s Word preached, knowing that their preparation will be effective in the hearers’ lives. And we all gain a collective spiritual benefit as we rightly take the Lord’s Supper together. As Matthew Henry wrote, “The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a good means of steadiness and perseverance; hereby their hearts and hands are mutually strengthened.”

I am not suggesting that we should know and connect with everyone equally. We recognize that even our own physical families do not function in that way with such common descriptors as Mama’s boy and Daddy’s girl. However, the willingness to mutually edify each other as we are able and have opportunity should always be present. Consider each Sunday how you can stimulate your fellow saints to love and good deeds through encouragement. When you do, our reunion will be a tradition in which everyone will want to participate.