“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
The Universality of Discouragement
In our world, it seems like discouragement comes more easily than ever before. Log onto Facebook or Instagram and you’ll see everyone’s best foot being put forward. Social media has provided us with an alternative universe in which you watch others from afar as they share their fancy meals, new clothes, exciting church events, grand adventures, exotic vacations and on and on.
This conditions how we think, subtly (or not so subtly) breeding discouragement within us. Eventually we feel dismayed about our own lack of awesomeness. If we’re honest, most of us can admit that we’ve logged off social media secretly wishing that we had better opportunities, more money, a nicer body or deeper friendships. We all tend to compare our lives to an idealized perception of someone else’s and end up feeling like a loser.
And that’s just one example. There are virtually endless ways to become discouraged. Maybe you’re struggling with a sin that you just can’t seem to outfox; or perhaps someone whom you loved and respected has hurt you deeply and left you reeling in the pain they inflicted. I don’t know your circumstances, but I do know this: discouragement is a feeling we are all very, very familiar with. Even the apostle Paul despaired of life itself (2 Co. 1:8).
More Than An Event
With discouragement being a big part of life in a fallen world, I’m thankful that the Bible provides us with a great deal of encouragement. We can open the Scriptures and find life-giving words of hope and comfort that make all the difference.
But the Bible doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t only provide us with personal inspiration when we come to a place of feeling like we need it. No, God’s wisdom goes much further than that. It reminds us that the battle against discouragement isn’t something to be fought alone. To fight well, we need one another.
This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 is so important. It reminds us that one of the central purposes of the Lord’s Day is the encouragement of the saints. Have you thought much about that? Our gatherings have everything to do with that funk you’ve been in lately. The people around you each week have been put there by God to help you—and you them—fight the battle against discouragement.
Therefore, we should stop viewing the Lord’s Day gathering as a mere event we attend. It’s so much more than that. It’s deeply formative. When we gather, our thinking is being shaped by a culture in which the stirring up of the saints “to love and good works” is a priority we all share. We’re all called to take responsibility for it. Each person comes to give and receive encouragement through Christ in order that we might thrive in the Christian life together.
The Gospel then becomes something we can hear and see and touch and interact with on a weekly basis. It goes from being words on the pages of our Bibles to being something we portray in the church as we help one another follow Jesus faithfully. Scripture itself testifies to that reality. It demonstrates over and over that God designed the church to be a primary means of encouraging us as we navigate life in a discouraging world.
So as we look to the Lord’s Day, allow me to ask, What needs to shift in your thinking? How have you disconnected what happens on Sunday morning from the discouragement you struggle with on a daily basis? Or here’s a question from a different angle, Have you considered how you might stir up the saints to greater love and good works? Who among the people of LifePoint needs to be encouraged through you this week? Will you surrender yourself to be used by God in that way? I pray that, as “the Day” draws nearer and nearer, we will say yes to God and to one another so that glorious, Gospel-saturated encouragement can abound among us each week.