Encourage or Harden?

Today is full of many opportunities that we choose to invest in or slam the door on. If you’re a parent, you know you have different opportunities to make time for your kids, but even during that time, you have the choice of how or if you truly invest in your child. Same goes for your spouse, if you have one. What kind of choices are you making with your time? If you’re single, those choices are still there, especially with your close friends!

“You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called ‘today.’ If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn.”

Hebrews 3:13 CEV

The compound Greek word translated “encourage,” here, means “to call from being close beside.” It makes sense that we’re going to have a hard time doing this, if we keep people at a distance. “Call,” in this instance, relates to speaking to another to warn or encourage them. There’s another word, kata, that shows up in the Greek, but its meaning isn’t as pronounced in the English translations of this verse. It can mean “during,” but it can also mean “by” with reference to someone testifying by something. In this context, one would be a testifier of Truth, sent by God through the Holy Spirit, urging someone or requesting, with serious, intense conviction, that they do something or stop doing something. We are to call on others to also testify, by the Spirit, of Christ…to declare His truths or give evidence of Him and/or His living in them; their testimony would include doing this something you are urging them to do, as the Spirit has prompted/directed, or not doing something that would hinder a positive representation of Christ. The meaning of this word, kata, is “bring down exactly, complete.” In this verse, we would be testifying to the Spirit’s teaching or prompting and the truths of Christ, bringing them down to the earth by fleshing it out.

Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash

It’s pretty hard to do any of this with any hope of making a positive impact, if we aren’t walking with someone in life: a) We won’t know what they’re dealing with, because we haven’t spent time connecting with them and b) We won’t have the relationship with them through which they may be willing to hear what the LORD is wanting to say through us. This can be challenging in a world marred by Covid, in which we may have turned more inwardly, but this verse commands us to do this every day…sun up to sun down. Whenever we can call it “today,” we’re responsible for this. This speaks to me.

Have you been making time for people?
Is there someone the Holy Spirit has been impressing on your heart to encourage or warn?
Have you done it?

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal if we miss an opportunity or two…but it does when we see that the person may be deceived by their sin, if we don’t, which leads to their becoming stubborn. I’ve known the definition of sin as “missing the mark,” but another definition of this Greek word is new to me. Sin’s a compound word and means “not” + “a part, share of.” What is doing the deceiving in this verse is not a part of God, not a share of Who He is. If someone is participating in or believing something that’s not even a part of God, they may become stubborn, being super determined not to change their view or attitude toward the sin. They rely on their own power, rather than God’s, or doing what they want. That’s scary and very concerning, when I think of this. I don’t want my not doing something the Spirit of God calls me to do to allow even an opportunity for someone to become hardened in their sin! I think we may act more on what the Spirit is prompting us to do and not be concerned with a “lack of time, inability, the fact that it’s uncomfortable, or that we may lose a friend if we say something,” if we know something bigger is at stake. The verse before calls it “an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12b CSB).” I don’t want to be responsible for that or have that myself! Do you?

Photo by Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

This section of verses (Hebrews 3:7-15) starts and ends with the Holy Spirit’s call to us. Last post, we talked about being tethered to (or walking with) God’s Spirit. Just like He is wanting us to do to others, He is wanting to walk in relationship with us, so we can hear Him call to us more clearly and be more open to the instruction, encouragement, and warnings He wants to share with us. Verses 7 and 15 say, “Today” (which is every day, right?), if you hear [(identify or recognize the noticeable words of)] His voice, you won’t harden your heart [(the extent of your voluntary, moral desires or choices) by resisting what God says is right].”

Are you walking with the Spirit today, listening to His voice?
Are you doing what He’s commanded you to do?

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