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.
Hebrews 10:25 – A lot of us are quite familiar with this verse. We often hear it quoted when folks are talking of church attendance and fellowship with other believers. But we hear it most, I think, when we are being chastised for being a slacker and skipping out on church! As an argument for faithful church attendance, though, this verse is a good one (it is God’s Word, after all) but have you ever taken a look at verse 24? I think if you do, you’ll see church attendance or regular fellowship with your church family in a brand new light.
To be honest, I had no clue what was in verse 24 until I came across it in my daily Bible reading. Maybe you’re like me and right about now, you’re reaching for your Bible to take a look. Well, here’s what it says,
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…
I know what you’re thinking and I can hear that confused tone in your voice as you are slowly saying, “And????”
Exactly! The phrase “let us consider how” in verse 24 clues us in that the author is about to explain something and that we must keep reading if we want to partake of the knowledge to follow. That leads us to verse 25.
So, read verses 24 and 25 together:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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.
Wow! These two verses definitely don’t need to be separated. Let us consider why. (Do you like what I did there? – It’s an indicator to keep reading!)
At first glance, verse 25 appears to be a reprimand. It seems that there were some among the Hebrew believers who had made a habit of playing hooky. It’s obvious the writer did not approve for he clearly pointed out the fault. But when verses 24 and 25 are read together as one thought, it becomes clear that the writer is doing much more than scolding. He is revealing the great role that meeting together plays in the life of the body of Christ.
So, what is that role? Look back at verse 24.
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…
The family of God should be building each other up and encouraging one another, so much so that it compels each one of its members to go out and do the same for others. How can we do this? Where and when does or should this take place? First and foremost, this should be happening in our church.
Now, I’m curious. Why do you go to church? Come on, you know you have a list of reasons. Most of us faithful church attenders do and we’re always ready to rattle these reasons off as soon as we are questioned. Do these sound familiar?
I go to church to worship God.
I go to learn more about God.
I go to grow in my relationship with God.
I go to church to spend time with other believers.
I go because the Bible tells us to gather together with other Christians.
Well, I’m a member of the finance committee, a Sunday School teacher, the children’s minister (wink, wink), etc., so I’m expected to be there.
But have you ever stopped to think that when you step into that church building or wherever your local body of believers meets, your purpose for being there is to encourage those around you? That all that you say and do while you are together should be lifting up fellow believers so that when you leave each other, those brothers or sisters in Christ can walk away feeling blessed and encouraged and compelled to share that love with others?
Imagine if we all had this purpose in mind as we ready ourselves for church on Sunday mornings. Forget the committee meetings, the Sunday School lessons and the choir specials. Yes, yes, these are important, too, but what if the first thing on our minds was finding that person who’s had a rough week (we know who they are – we’ve seen their Facebook posts!) and giving them a great, big hug, praying with them and letting them know that we’re there for them. What if we focused our attention on the person sitting beside us in our Sunday School class and the problems they may be secretly facing? What if our first thought as we walked into the sanctuary was, “Is there anyone sitting alone today?” And what if we made a beeline to that person so we could sit with her and make her feel welcome? I just wonder what a difference it would make.
What if we changed our thinking about why we go to church? What if our sole purpose was to love on each other, to encourage one another, to pray for one another, to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”? Imagine the smiles, the burdens lifted, the lives changed. Imagine the sound of the people of God saying, “It was good to be in the House of The Lord today!” How pleasing to the Heavenly Father that would be!! And there, my friends, is your worship. There is your fellowship with God. There is your spiritual growth. Loving as God loved, following in the steps of Christ – what better way to worship our Heavenly Father!
So, what are your plans for this Sunday? Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you ready to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”? Well, I don’t know about you but I sure am!