Encouragement

February 12, 2018 | Drew Smith

Bold Like A Bus Driver

Ecuadorian bus drivers are fearless. This was the settled consensus of the group as we sped upwards into the rural mountains, peering down a precipice on the one side and an unforgiving cliff face on the other. We marveled at the driver’s perfect composure, during turns mere mortals would deem impossible. Perhaps it was the courage of the bus driver, or perhaps it was the nagging fear that we might never make it to our destination, but something in the air called for the making of compacts and solemn vows. So it was that Tim and I made a pact there in the rear of the bus.

When, and if, we arrived at our destination, we would share the gospel with at least one person each day we served at the school. I confess that even as we made the accord the all familiar nausea of fear began to weigh on my stomach. I was not a particularly courageous evangelist as a young man, and the thought of driving my way to a gospel presentation everyday was well outside my comfort zone. Nevertheless, the deal was made and there was no going back now.  Looking back, I can say that our week in that small Ecuadorian town was perhaps the single most evangelistic week of my life. By the time it was done, I had orchestrated a gospel presentation for the entire school, witnessed one teacher come to faith, and managed to converse with a very out of place Jehovah’s Witness. Not because I was born bold, but because a brother in Christ spurred me to boldness.

Encouragement and Community

Unsurprisingly, this scene of two brothers spurring each other on to boldness in the faith has a firm basis in Scripture. The author of Hebrews wrote these words long ago:

And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works; not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Heb 10:24-25)

Here are a few observations to keep in mind as we read this passage. First, “to provoke” here is similar to causing someone to become angry. We’ve all experienced moments when someone acts in a certain way or speaks in a certain way and before we know what’s happened we find ourselves steaming on the inside.  If you have never experienced this, I will assume you have not yet obtained a driver’s permit. In the same way our actions and words can draw out anger from one another, they can also draw out love and good works. When my friend Tim took the initiative to make that pact with me, he drew out of me boldness for the Lord. This is very much in line with what the author says at the end when he admonishes us to, “encouraging each other.” The way to provoke one another to love and good is to encourage them in these pursuits.

However, and this is the second observation, that is not the only prerequisite the author gives us for encouraging one another. He writes, “not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing.” Encouragement happens in relationships and relationships require regular contact. The only way we can take up the call to provoke each other to good works, the only way we can habitually encourage one other in the faith, is if we are committed enough to the gathering together of the saints to live life with one another.

Third, notice what starts this whole verse off. The author tells this congregation that they must, “watch out for one another.” Another way we could render this command is “think about each other.” It’s true that we encourage one another with our words and actions, but more fundamentally, encouragement is a mindset. It is a way of thinking about our brothers and sisters in the faith. To live the life of an encourager means we need to regularly have each other on our minds. We need to routinely be looking for ways to uplift one another and challenge each other in the faith. We can accomplish this many different ways.  Perhaps it could be as simple as writing down one person’s name on an index card each week along with a way to encourage them. For instance, consider doing some of the following:

• Write an encouraging note or letter

• Buy a gift card

• Offer to watch kid(s) so parents can go on a date

• Take them for lunch or coffee

• Give them a rest – offer to take care of their responsibilities

• Wash their car

• Buy them a gift

• Do a chore or project for them at their house

• Bake them some cookies or a sweet bread

Finally, notice how the author ends this verse, “and all the more as you see the day approaching.” The present age will only last so long. And each of us is given only so much life to live while it does. Let us hear the author’s admonition, therefore, to spur one another on with urgency until the day when Jesus comes again.

Pastor Drew

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