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 3:13 (NIV)
If you want to fulfill God’s plan for your life, there’s one thing you must not do: Don’t forsake the daily fellowship and encouragement of other believers! Hebrews 3:13 tells us that we need to “…encourage one another daily.…” The word for “encourage” that is used in this verse comes from a Greek word that gives the picture of someone who has come closely alongside of another person for the sake of speaking to him, consoling him, comforting him, or assisting him with instruction, counsel, or advice. Jesus used a form of this word to describe the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” in John 14:16.
The key verse above makes it abundantly clear that we need to both give and receive encouragement from other believers (encourage one another) on a daily basis. This is such a vital principle that the tense used in the Greek language calls for continual action. In other words, we are not to just encourage one another once a month or every now and then; we are to make this a matter of lifestyle. We must get into the habit of encouraging one another, doing it so often that it becomes a daily practice!
Think how encouraging it is when someone cares enough to take you to lunch, call you on the telephone, write you a note, or goes out of his or her way at the office or church to come to you and ask how you are doing. It is especially very strengthening to know that someone really cares about you if you’re going through challenging times! But rather than preoccupy yourself only on your need to be encouraged, try taking your eyes off yourself to see those around you who are also in need of strength. Think of someone you know whom you can strengthen by coming alongside him or her to speak words of comfort, consolation, or bravery. Maybe you can take that person to lunch; call him or her on the telephone; drop them a note; or go out of your way to see how he or she is doing. Remember, you’re not the only one who needs encouragement!
We all need encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord who will lovingly attach themselves to us — watching us, making observations about us, and finding ways to provoke us unto love and good deeds. But we must also turn around and do the same for other believers. That’s what the Body of Christ is all about!
Another verse in Hebrews says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” (10:24-25a NLT). God wants us to be creative and proactive. He wants us to give prior planning to whom we will encourage and how we will do it. It will take time and preparation. It may mean a shuffling of our schedules and going the second mile. And often we will have to step out of our comfort zones to be a brother or sister to another believer. But we are family and that is what families do for each other.
So recognize that when you’re feeling down and left out, you need fellowship with people of faith more than ever. Jesus understood this principle. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray the night before His crucifixion, He asked Peter, James, and John to come pray with Him. Jesus needed their fellowship and strength that night, or He wouldn’t have requested it.
When I was in the Navy, I served aboard an oiler – a floating gas station. We would have other Navy vessels come alongside – often one on each side – and we would transfer fuel to them. We also carried some food supplies and weapons we could pass along. At times a food supply ship would give us food while we gave them fuel. And we always looked forward to the aircraft carrier coming alongside because that meant we would get our mail. And in time of war our unarmed ship would appreciate the firepower of the carrier and cruisers and destroyers that would surround us to protect us from the enemy. We were there for each other, supplying one another’s needs.
So, you need to recognize your need for others — and acknowledge that others need you as well. The daily encouragement of other believers will help you stir up your faith and help you to hold fast to the Lord. And as an added side benefit, you will experience more deeply the Presence of the Lord in your life through the joy of knowing and loving other people of like faith!
Do we have each other’s back?