As I was considering some thoughts around the idea of encouragement my mind wandered a little bit and I started to think about sports. Now, this is strange because I am not much of a sports guy so bear with me. Have you ever watched golf or been out on the course with someone who “talks” the ball to go where they want it to? Usually that person takes the time to skillfully line up their shot with the hole whether it is to be hit off the tee or is laying on the green. After taking the shot they will sometimes expressively talk the ball towards the hole, especially if it’s going off course. What about the basketball player getting ready to take a foul shot from the top of the key or is going the for the distance of a well timed three point shot? Often they will verbally encourage the ball to hit its target.
The author of Hebrews talks about a different type of encouragement, here is a short verse on what that looks like: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (10:24&25) When you dig deeper into the word “encouraging” that the author uses here, it has a sense of urgency to it. It is suggesting a position of begging or pleading for fellow believers to stay the course of faith in our God. It is to build our faith in the midst of trials and temptations as we wait for the day when Christ comes again. The author calls us to encourage one another daily as he warns us that there will be times of unbelief, times of falling away and times where we will need to persevere.
Eugene Peterson in the message captures a picture of encouragement with these thoughts: “keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.” Living out our faith calls us to encourage others by walking with them through “thick and thin”, praying for them, being the example of love that Christ has for them. The encouragement we give (and need) ought to draw us closer to our heavenly Father, reminding us of his unconditional love and sacrifice that will one day bring us into his presence.