Starting well is pretty easy.  How many things have you started with enthusiasm that seemed to dribble to a very unenthusiastic end?  It is about as easy for me to have ideas that I think are great and want to get started as quickly as possible, but after a few weeks or months the same idea that seemed so good just doesn’t seem all that good any more.  As a matter of fact, I begin to wonder what in the world I was thinking when I started the whole thing.  Even in our spiritual life, it isn’t the beginning of it that is hard, it is the continuance of our faith, service and dedication to God.  The Christians we meet in the Book of Hebrews had started down the road of faith in Jesus with fervor.  They had been active in their faith as Jews.  But someone preached Jesus to them and they recognized that He offered the better way.  He was the very Messiah that had been foretold all through the Old Covenant.  So they launched into serving God through Jesus, in the church with power.  I can imagine them as a group gathered by a lake somewhere as many of them confess their faith in Jesus as the Christ and as the one who was both crucified and raised from the dead in order to be our savior and Lord.  They may even have gone out into the lake as a group as different faithful servants of Jesus baptized them into Christ and into the church to declare their commitment to Jesus.

But, time has passed.  Their faith has wavered.  They are dealing with doubts even in Jesus as the Savior.  The writer of Hebrews compared them to those Jews in the Old Testament who became hardened in their hearts and rebelled against the Lord in the wilderness, while eating of the manna and quail that God provided them miraculously each day.  They drank from a stream created by God from a rock.  But, still they doubted.  Their hearts became hard and they wearied the Lord, so that he said of them”Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.  So I declared on oath that in my anger, they shall never enter my rest.”  (Hebrews 3:7-11)

Focus on the writer’s application of this quotation to these Christians who are growing weary and tired in their faith and service to the Lord. “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (Hebrews 3:12-14)  We tend to become weary, struggling Christians in danger of being hardened by sin, individually.  But it is very easy for us as we struggle individually, to develop into a group who are tired and worn down in our faith.  Just as we are often moved to faith with enthusiasm as one person, and then watch as it turns into a group of people on fire for the Lord, it is easy for the same process to happen in reverse when we begin to struggle.  One person on fire for God can often spread the fire, the enthusiasm, the excitement for God from just themselves to a few, to a few more until you have a crowd of people excited about their faith and telling everyone they meet about the Lord.  But, I’ve also noticed that one member of the church, can begin complaining about things they don’t like and the one will turn into a few, until the few turns into many and you have a whole church who has lost it’s fire and turned into a group of pouting, fussing and unhappy members.  Anyone can become weary in their faith.

There is certainly a reason why Paul would so often challenge the churches he wrote to not become weary in well doing.  Here are some key things that we should remember on the point.  First, when we start spreading discouragement in God’s family it turns quickly into a SINFUL, UNBELIEVING HEART THAT TURNS AWAY FROM THE LIVING GOD.  We like to think of our difficulties or getting tired in our service as just a little problem that really doesn’t affect our relationship with God.  But we are lying to ourselves and allowing the devil to lie to us when we do.  There is a reason why Paul wrote the church in Philippi to “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” (Philippians 2:14-15)  Grumbling and complaining in the church becomes a growing action that simply leads to more and more people following the same actions.  Before long it is causing major problems that lead to a church being in trouble and many believers struggling with their faith.

Second, here is God’s answer to the problem.  Instead of joining in with the complaining and growing weary in your faith, ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER DAILY.  How long?  As long as it is called “Today.”  Well, why should we do that?  “So that we will not become hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Sin starts small and grows.  It is the most deceptive thing in all the world.  It can lead us to believe we are doing right and good when in truth we are doing all kinds of harm and actually turning people away from God.  Think about how easy it is to be an encourager instead of a discourager.  It only takes looking for the good in things and in people and being willing to tell them when we see good.  It is just as easy to be a good finder as it is a fault finder.  But we tend to get into a pattern.  That pattern or way of handling things becomes so much a part of us that everyone who knows us, knows which we are.  They know if being around us will tend to make them feel better and stronger in their faith or if being around us tends to make them more down, critical and tired in their faith.  Just experiment by asking people you know about someone else.  Ask the simple question, “Is he or she an encourager or discourager?”  If you get up your courage you might even ask them about yourself.  You could say, “Tell me, when you think about me, do you think of me as an encourager of people or a discourager?”

Now if you are shocked to learn that many of the people you ask think of you as a discourager instead of an encourager, I have some really good news for you.  You can change! It only takes a moment to make up your mind you are going to be different from now on.  Then begin the process of encouraging people everywhere you go and in everything you do.  You can become one of the greatest spiritual blessings in the lives of people you are around.  It is really your choice.  It has nothing to do with your heritage, your family background or what church you are part of.  It is a personal choice.  So decide to be an encourager that helps people stay out of sin that deceives them and grow for God.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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