Many times before when I've read this verse, I've wondered how it all fit together. It almost seemed like two different thoughts. Until today . . . the two fit together when I read it today.
I love how God's Word comes alive in new and fresh ways every time we read it, if we're listening for what He has to say. That means we can read the Bible many times and never get bored with what we're reading.
Back to the verse from Hebrews . . .
The writer of Hebrews is calling on those who claim to be followers of Christ to encourage each other on a regular basis. And the encouragement is to keep us following the path God has laid out for us and to keep us from getting stuck in a pattern of sin that pulls us from God.
When you're walking through life on your own, it's easy to get pulled off course. It's easy to begin to stray into an area of sin in your life and not realize the danger until you're in trouble because of it. It's Satan's specialty to subtly lead us off course - just a little bit at first, but over time it grows until we're really far off course.
I believe the writer of Hebrews gives us the prescription for staying on the right path more often and turning back sooner when we do get off course. The prescription is having other followers of Christ in our lives to encourage us to keep going the right way - even when it's hard.
We need people in our lives who can help us to keep going. Who will pray for us when we're struggling. Who will warn us when we start heading in the wrong direction. God made us to need people in our lives for that.
The culture we live in tells us we don't need anybody else, but the Bible says something different. The Bible tells us we need to learn to live in community with others.
It's probably easier in lots of ways to keep relationship with others distant. It means we can put ourselves first and do whatever we want. But, it's dangerous to live that way.
The truth is that living in relationship with other people is dangerous too. We take a risk to allow people to get close enough to encourage us when it's hard and warn us when we start to wander.
But it's a risk with a reward for taking it because it's only when we open ourselves up to relationships with others that we really get to live.
Do you have people in your life who encourage you regularly?
Do you have people in your life who warn you when you're beginning to head off course?
Are you that kind of person for others?