Encourage One Another Daily (revised)
Fighting the Deceiver
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
When you live homeless on the street, especially when its for an extended length of time... a hardened view of life becomes the norm. After a while your instinct sets in and the only thing that matters is surviving the day. The practice becomes so routine that you began to accept a way of life that keeps you in a rut... even though you know that this pattern of behavior only goes toward extending your suffering. You're not only hardened, but in addition you fall victim of self deciet. Without some serious encouragement, the kind that has its assistance in God... the cycle might not ever be broken. I speak from experience as many of you already know. Twenty years of living hand to mouth has a way of introduceing the teacher of lifes hardest lessons. It's one of the reasons why this passage from chapter 3, and the whole book of Hebrews has and continues to be both a comfort and a great encouragement.
When you look at this verse in the King James Version, exhort is used instead of the word encourage. Both words are a form of translation from the Greek word – parakaleō ; a verb from which we can learn quite a bit. The Strong’s concordance has this rendition to explain its meaning.
1. to call to one's side, call for, summon
2. to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.
a. to admonish, exhort
b. to beg, entreat, beseech
3. to strive to appease by entreaty
a. to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort
4. to receive consolation, be comforted
a. to encourage, strengthen
b. exhorting and comforting and encouraging
c. to instruct, teach
In any case it would appear that a fair degree of effort is suggested to be put in place with the use of the word. When you attach the context in which the writer of Hebrews has placed it, (as long as it is called “Today”), it seems that even greater lengths were taken to emphasize the importance of its attention and effort.
Why do think that would be, why is it so necessary to go the extra yard?
The approach to the answer is probably best found by looking at the warning, and description of sin used at the end of the verse… the deceitfulness that can readily lead to a hardened state of being.
it's not necessary for one to live on the streets as I did to be affected by sin's ability to harden. Even with the ever growing number of homeless individuals, I suspect there is an even greater number of people living a seemingly fulfiling existance who are as decieved and hardened as those who are obovious victims. Without being in earshot I can here the prayers of many who express greatfulness for not having to face the hardships of those around them.
Do we decieve ourselves to believe that a suit and tie or cash on hand is enough to make us any better?
Does such a viewpoint not bring us close to the position of the pharisee praying and thanking God that he wasn't like the tax collector and others? (see Luke 18)
Who are we and how have we become so arragont as to place ourselves on such a jaded platform? We could be reminded that it was Christ's mission to come and announce the "Good News to the Poor." Never distansing Himself, but remaining ever close to the little people... the publicans... and receving many a challenge for doing so. And what was He doing if not teaching and encouraging them to do better.
Do we make use of the opportunities presented us to encourage and exhort others that we see so clearly in need, or is our compassion reserved for an exclusive and select few?
One might argue that the world is a dangerious place... it is. You could also point out that as such its necessary to be causus or downright fearful of mengaling with persons of such low reputation... again, I agree... you're right. Herein lies the subility of sin's decite. Because of the conditions brougt about by a sinful world, we justify being jaded and distant... never approaching the problems at the source. We pass by the homeless and make complaints to remove them from around our homes and workplaces. We seperate ourselves from people we don't like or don't get along with. We move out of the neighborhood, away from crime, to what we consider to be more affluant and safer surroundings.
While we make every effort to remove ourselves because of fear... none of us are making an effort to exercise a better degree of faith.
Just as a match only ignites a small flame, our lack of "Godly Encouragement" to those that needed it, has allowed the spark of sin to become a raging inferno... burning out of controle. We have Little choice but to be fearful, only because we neglected to be concerned and compassionate when we should have been. The very effort to distance ourselves is the single most biggest contributor to the problem. A simple word of encouragement and some well placed advice could have prevented our ills long ago. We... (mankind) have been duped into creating our own hearts of stone... each and every one of us... and then giving reason to justify it being necessary. We all started as children, just like those two little girls in the picture. At one time we were all playful and loving, giving encouragement to each other. Somewhere along the road of life we started to feed our sinful nature allowing our faith to starve.
The instructions coming from Hebrews 3, were then... and are now again, being given for members of the Church to be watchful and attentive towards others as well as toward themselves. It's a duty that goes neglected much too often.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (KJV)
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Sin is always deceitful. Its promises are ever empty. It paints a picture of pleasure which it can never deliver. It calls us to places we are never supposed to go, and compels us to indulge one step at a time until the heart becomes entirely hardened. If sinful acts were seen in their true form, man would not be tempted to commit them. What person would start gambling... develop a pattern of drunkenness... or start the use of drugs if they could see the life they would be flushing down the toilet?
Sin deceives us; it deludes our judgment and prevents us from seeing things clearly. Happiness and gainful desire are dangled like a carrot, just out of reach... until satisfaction of the heart becomes a kind of madness and our conscience is seared – we are slowely left to give in... sometimes, without remorse.
Each and every member in the “Body of Christ” should feel that he has a vested interest in keeping his brother from such a subtle trap; and each of us who are aware of such danger should be willing to listen to the kind exhortation that comes from the brothers and sisters in fellowship.
Romans 7:11 (KJV)
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].
The commandments allowed us to see sin for what it was, to become acutly aware of it. But for every one of us that got a look at what it was… we also got deceived. Mankind was coaxed into thinking that sin could be tamed under man’s ability alone. Another one of Satan’s descriptive tactics. No wonder one of his many names is – “The Deceiver.”
Revelation 12:9 (KJV)
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Yes... it was for this reason that Christ took on flesh and was born to dwell among us in the world… to usher in the “Good News.” Look again at the expressions used for our Greek word – parakaleō.
Is it not Christ, who calls us to His side, that summons’s us away from darkness?
Isn’t it by Him speaking to us, “The Living Word”, that we are called upon to have faith in the gift of salvation, and to live a life of service to Him because of that faith?
Who would say that His life (speaking spacificly of Christ), was not lived as a comfort to those He encountered; giving exhortation and instruction to all… even to us in this day?
Should we not for the sake of the cross; entreat, beseech, and even beg - if we find it necessary... to strengthen our brothers and sisters in the faith, and in doing so receive consolation?
I think… "NO"... I believe it’s our duty - that because we were taught by and received these instructions from Christ Himself... that we would do well to make it our Christian Business to do all we can to…
“Encourage One Another Daily, as long as it is called “Today.”