18
Sep
13

Encouragement That Restores

Take a look at Hebrews 3:12-13 (NIV):

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.

The phrase “encourage one another daily” is so important.  In the original language, this phrase is in the present tense.  In other words, this is to be an ongoing encouragement.  It’s not a once a week or once a month thing.  This is a daily, all the time thing.  Also, the original language says, “encourage yourselves.”  What do you think that means with regard to the family of God?  It means that we are to be so close to one another that to encourage someone is just like encouraging yourself.
Encouragement is so important.  The Greek word means to “comfort, encourage, cheer up.”  When people are down, we are to cheer them up with words of encouragement.  When people are mourning, we are to comfort them with words of encouragement.  When people are discouraged, we are to encourage them.  We are to be doing this on a daily basis in the family of God.  Why?  Because the outside world is not a place of encouragement.  This is a hardened world.  Everywhere we look there are people who are hardened by sin and bitterness.  People are unforgiving and mean.  The world is cold and unbelieving.  But in the church, we are to encourage each other so that none will fall away.  Rather than condemning others, let us encourage one another.
How do we do that?  I believe that there are a couple of different ways.  One, we can lift the spirits of our brothers and sisters with words and acts of kindness.  Proverbs 12:25 (NIV) says,

Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.

When people are anxious and fearful, let us use kind words to encourage them.
Two, we can encourage each other in our spiritual lives.  When we see someone slipping or straying, let us encourage them to get back on the narrow path.  When we see someone backsliding or engaging in sinful behavior, let us gently lead them back to where they belong.  This requires that we make a right judgment (John 7:24) and that we make sure we’ve dealt with the plank in our own eye before we point out the speck of dust in our brother or sister’s eye.  Let us gently encourage our brothers and sisters to come back into the fold rather than shaming or condemning them.  Let us use encouragement to facilitate restoration.

Hebrews 3

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Greater Than Moses

3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Warning Against Unbelief

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
8     do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

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. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

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