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 become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Scripture speaks of such a man by the name of Demas. At one point in his life, Demas was a companion and fellow laborer of the Apostle Paul. But a love for this world somehow overshadowed his commitment to Christ and somewhere along the way he strayed from the faith.
Hebrews 3:13 impresses upon us the need for 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.
This passage also impresses upon us the need for 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.
Hebrews 3:13 also impresses upon us the need for Faithful Encouragement. Let me explain why. 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.
“You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn.” (CEV)