Look at Hebrews 3 verses 12,13 below.
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3)
‘See to it.’ Here is a command, not just a suggestion. Instead of seeing other turn aside, encourage each other.
There is a process going on here. Look at it carefully.
- It starts with a heart that doubts God’s promise, that distrusts his care.
- That kind of person turns aside from God.
It is said another way in verse 13
- Sin is deceives – it misleads – it persuades us to think wrongly about God.
- So we end up hardened against him – unresponsive
The danger is that we drift away from God. We believe lies about him and so disobey him. Don’t think that this couldn’t happen to you or even to the ‘really keen’ Christians. It can. That is the danger. The answer is that God gives us each other to help us to hold on to him, to protect us from turning from him. We need others; others need us.
Paul Tripp, a helpful Christian author, wrote this:
“Physically blind people are always aware of their problem and spend much of their lives learning to live it. But the Bible says that we can be ‘blind’ to our sin and yet think that we ‘see’ quite well. I need you in order to really see myself. Otherwise I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies.”
Sin leads us to believe things are true about God and us that in fact are not true. And so sin makes us spiritually blind: we don’t see ourselves properly. We end up believing one thing about ourselves when another thing is true.
Though we are often blind to our own sin, we may see other’s sins clearly – we can be better at seeing others are wrong than seeing it in ourselves. That can be very irritating! But it can be very helpful. Because you can help me by pointing out how my life is drifting from God.
How are we going to get that help? Again Paul Tripp helpfully wrote:
“Doing this for others is not about being a private detective, forcing someone to obey. Instead, we need to invite others to intrude.”
This is a good way of looking at this isn’t it? Rather than snooping around and trying to catch others doing wrong, we start by asking someone to do this for us. We say: “I need your help to keep going as a Christian. I need your prayers. I need you to ask me if I am praying. I need you to remind me that our Heavenly Father loves us, even when I have mucked up and been angry in the office yet again.”
What are the practical issues?
- This is for everyone. We must not just leave it to one or two.
- It is for everyone, but it is not with everyone. You cannot know everyone well enough to care for them like this. It is a good pattern for us to have these more personal conversations with just one or two other Christians.
- For many of us, this is a very scary prospect. We are nervous of talking to others about our lives and matters concerning God. We have been hurt by others. It takes time to build trust. But we need to start taking steps in a forward direction.
What are the steps?
- Recognise that we are at risk, risk of being deceived and turning from God – so pray to God for others, to keep them from turning from him.
- Be more involved – come to church regularly so you get to know other Christians, join a growth group. Don’t get in the habit of not meeting.
- To do this well, will take more than the brief time we spend together on Sundays. It would be good to text, call or (best of all) meet during the week.
- Start talking more about Jesus and about living his way with your close friends.
- Invite someone to ‘intrude in your life’ – to protect you from slipping.
24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 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)