But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
Who among us does not know of at least one, if not several believers who have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Scripture speaks of such a man by the name of Demas. “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life…” Paul wrote. At one point in his life, Demas was a companion and fellow laborer of the Apostle Paul, but a love for this world overshadowed his commitment to Christ and somewhere along the way he strayed from the faith.
The same thing can happen to any of us. We must never be as foolish as Peter and think for even a moment that we are spiritually invincible. We must always remember that though our spirit may be willing, our flesh is weak. The writer of Hebrews tells us that as the body of Christ, we must keep constant watch over each other and do all we can to help each other to stay strong in the faith.
There must be Constant Encouragement within the body of Christ. Watchfulness and care is not the ministry of a select few. Each of us needs encouragement and each of us needs to encourage. Even spiritual leaders such as a man called Demas can stray.
There must be Immediate Encouragement. “..encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today.” Notice the emphasis on doing so – Today . Why the need for such immediacy? “Do so now while there is still opportunity” is the thought the writer is trying to convey. According to this passage, sin can have a dulling affect upon our spiritual sensitivity. The word ‘hardened’ means to become stubborn or obstinate. Whenever a believer begins to allow sin to linger in their life, they often become less responsive and even resistant to spiritual things. Those who have tried to reason with someone who has drifted away from the faith have no doubt witnessed such reactions. The wayward believer may even become angry with those trying to draw them back. Often it takes something extreme to awaken them out of their spiritual slumber.
There must be Faithful Encouragement. The word ‘encourage’ (exhort in the KJV) has a rich definition. To begin with, it means to ‘come along side.’ Para-kaleo is the Greek word. ‘Para’ means to come along side; ‘kaleo’ means to call, or be called. Encouragers are called to come along side of the one needing encouragement. The word encouragement also means: to bring comfort, to instruct, to strengthen, even to warn. Those who have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin need someone to minister to them. Such ministry may involve: comfort, guidance, support, perhaps even rebuke. Obviously the type of encouragement needed depends upon the uniqueness of the situation.
The deeper someone drifts into darkness, the more resistant they will be to the light. Many times one encounter will not be enough. Prayer, love, compassion, stamina and strength will all be needed. Yet it is our duty as fellow believers.