As we live through the coronavirus, social distancing has become a major part of our lives. But as Christians we need to recognise some of the dangers that we can face in a season like this. In Hebrews 3:12-14, God gives us a warning that is very relevant for us right now! Verse 12 says, "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." God is telling you to be careful! Take care that you don’t turn from the living God; the One who is alive and sits on the throne over this universe. We are wired to sin and to not believe God. We often turn from the true living One and run to many lifeless things. So how do we ensure that we don’t turn from God? What is going to stop us from having a sinful heart?
What will stop us from falling into unbelief?
Well, God gives us the help we need in the next verse. Verse 13 says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." What will stop us from falling into the trap of sin and unbelief? Daily encouragement from one another. I know for myself that I desperately need encouragement from other Christians. The times when I have struggled the most to endure in the faith are when I have been distant from God's people. And my deepest times of growth have been when I soaked myself daily with conversations about God's Word and when I was surrounded every day by godly people.
But how are we to encourage each other? Well we are shown later in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 10:25 gives the same command as our passage to encourage one another. And just before it in verses 23-24 we are shown how we can do this. We are told to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
What encouragement should we give to each other? Encourage each other to hold to the hope we have. To trust in the promises and faithfulness of our God. And push each other on to show love and do good deeds, by giving others constant encouragement with God’s promises. As Christians, we must speak of our hope and God’s promises if we are to be an encouragement to each other.
Why do I need encouragement?
Maybe you think this and that you are fine on your own. Well our passage in Hebrews 3 says you aren't, and this is because sin is deceptive. We can easily be hardened by it and not realise. We may think we are okay and yet be deceived. We may think we have everything right, but be so deluded in our perception. God tells us, we need others! We need their exhortation, encouragement, rebuke and counsel. I know how much I need these things and you do too! So, don’t neglect to meet with fellow Christians who will give you this. You desperately need it!
And verse 14 gives us a further reason for why we must continue meeting together. Verses 12-13 have just spoken of the need to encourage each other and this is so important because “we have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Hebrews 3:14). Don’t just sit back in the Christian life and think everything will take care of itself. No! The Christian life calls for a firm grip! It takes discipline! It requires effort! It demands endurance! And we need daily encouragement and help if we are to endure!
Don't distance from each other!
Can I encourage you in this time as you practice social distancing, to not distance from other Christians! Yes, submit to our government authorities which God has put in place! But also find a way where you can submit to God’s authority and the wisdom He gives when he tells us to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). Be on guard against the dangers of social distancing and be an encouragement to others. It will look different in this time, but it still can happen. So may you continue to encourage one another with the promises of our faithful God. May you remind each other of the hope we have. And may that hope free you to show love and good deeds in this world, which desperately needs to see and hear of the hope God offers in Christ.