Encouraging One Another
Encouragement. We all need it. Especially in our walk in Christ. Yes, Christ is the great Encourager, but He also commanded that we who are His are to encourage each other. The writer of Hebrews calls us in chapter 12 to “…run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Then in verse 12, he directs us to turn our attention to each other, saying, “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble.” At some point in our lives, most of us have had the opportunity to be engaged in some type of physical running-- some more than others, but I think we all have an understanding of what makes an effective runner. The hard work, the consistent practice, the continual focus--these are just some of the descriptions of the effort and pain of running. Sure, you can do this all by yourself, but running with another person or a pack of people brings greater accountability and encouragement.
Spiritually speaking, it is easier to run with a group of fellow Christians than to run alone. It is more encouraging to live your Christian life with your brothers and sisters in Christ around you and run with the same goal of faithfully running the race and becoming more like Christ.
The writer of Hebrews teaches us that each of us has a responsibility before the Lord to encourage others around us who are also in the race. We are to be aware of our fellow “runners” and pick up the weak and the feeble. We are to bear one another’s burdens, shake off the sin that entangles us, and keep running. There is no such thing as Lone Ranger Christianity. I run my race the best when you run your race the best. And you run your race the best when I run my race the best. Not that we are competing, but we desire to be faithful to the end. This is because we are a body, and we are joined heart to heart, salvation to salvation, and we function together as one for the glory of God. When one person hurts, we all hurt. When one person rejoices, we all rejoice. There’s to be no jealousy, no gossip, no coveting. We’re striving toward the same goal together, to finish this race with faithfulness to our Lord and Savior. We all have a vital interest in each other’s race. This is called accountability. This is called living with one another in love for the common goal of being more like Jesus.
Hebrews 12:12 tells us to encourage the weak. We are to strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble. Notice there are no personal pronouns here. He is not saying to strengthen your hands or your knees. He is not calling here for self-centered Christianity which says that you are to get what you want from God and from a church. He is calling us to look at other runners, other brothers and sisters in the Lord. We understand from this verse that as we run the race, others are getting weak, and others are growing feeble with the mounting challenges and the various difficulties that come to Christians in various forms. There are trials, temptations, obstacles, opposition, and persecution. The difficulties we face result in the weakening of the hands and knees of other runners around us. They are easy to spot. They are the ones who begin to slacken in their pursuit of Christ. They become discouraged and pull back from being with other believers. They may be on fire for the Lord for a time, and then, just like that, the fire dwindles to a mere spark. They are the ones in the back of the pack who are in danger of being left behind.
So the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble. We are exhorted to have a proactive ministry with one another. This word strengthen has the idea of building up, edifying, or encouraging. We are to help each other press on and keep running, to get our focus off this world and keep it on Jesus. Beloved, every one of us at various times needs to be encouraged in Christ. Look around you. These individuals are all around you; if you just take the time to get involved in their lives, you will find ways that they need encouragement. Here’s the exhortation: Don’t let those opportunities go by. Seize the day and the moment to encourage each other in Christ. For if we obey this truth, the Lord will build a body with a life that is so infectious that the doors of the Church will be busting down because the world will want to be a part of such a body.
Beloved, we need to encourage one another!