The road we have found ourselves on over the last several months has changed us in many ways. For parents who have children, you have faced the challenge of learning to be a sort of home schooler, and that is putting it lightly. For many, this past holiday was an awkward one. Other examples of this change can be seen in how we shop for things changed, whether we travel or not, just to name a few. We have truly felt the impact of these times in so many ways and that includes our interaction as a church. Think about it for a moment. The amount of time we used to spend together has dropped significantly due to this pandemic. New habits are being formed or already have been established, suggesting that we don’t need the church; that is, each other. How do we fight against this?
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.
Recently, in our meditation class, this verse came up, and all because of one simple word, consider. Thayer defines this word as follows: to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes, or mind upon. James uses the same word in James 1:23. Which says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in the mirror…” For some time, I thought that this idea of “observing” (same word used in Hebrews 10:24 translated consider) was a passing glance of one’s reflection, almost inattentive to their reality. After thinking about this word, I now realize that this person was aware of what He saw and the needed changes. Listen to the ETRV translation of the next verse, “…and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you look.” Why the focus on James when Hebrews is the intended objective? James gives us insight into the meaning of the word “consider.” To “consider” means to look intently to see how one might change or grow. In the case of our text today, the intent is to ponder how we might “stir up” one another. The KJV uses the word “provoke.” The ordinary meaning of this word is aggressive in nature, for it means inciting, incitement, and thus, carries a negative tone. That is not the intent here though, which is why the ETRV reads “how we can encourage.” I like the NLT, which says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another…” As one commentator explains, “Let us so regard the welfare of others as to endeavor to excite them to persevere in the Christian life.” As a one-word study brings out, this word “denotes attentive, continuous care.” Our objective is simple yet critical to the Christian life. We want to think of ways to inspire one another to love and serve by doing good works.
Contextually, the next verse is significant, so let me share it now. The ETRV says, “We must not quit meeting together, as some are doing. No, we need to keep on encouraging each other. This becomes more and more important as you see the Day getting closer” (Hebrews 10:25). Our time together was an opportunity to encourage one another in just such a fashion. Now the opportunity is strained immensely.
Whether we realize it or not, we need one another. Or, maybe we should see it as someone needing me. And if I were to take it a step further, that encouragement is probably needed now more than ever. Okay, I know there are few, if any, who fall into the category of not meeting together. I am so happy about how we commit ourselves to worship on Sunday through zoom and those comfortable attending the building. That said, the amount of time we have together is much less than before. That means the opportunity to encourage has also diminished. Thus, it is paramount that we take time to consider and ponder how we might encourage one another. Cards, calls, emails, even a zoom moment between fellow Christians. That list can be relatively simple. I wonder though, what we could come up with if we took the time to consider, truly think about how I could spur someone on this day in their service to the King.
May the Lord continue to guide us through these uncharted waters. May he strengthen his Church and the gospel shared. Let us all do this to the glory of His name.