Four Words for a Searching Church: Two - Be Attentive
The first word was be steadfast, from v.23. The second is be attentive, from v. 24.
Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not 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.
Other People Need You
Most of us have times when we live our life on “cruise control.” What I mean by that is that sometimes, during my forty minute drive either into work or back home, I will put the vehicle in cruise control then end up lost in thought. I will reach some point along the trip and realize I don't remember much of the drive. Many times, I will reach the turn to head west toward Columbus, and I will not remember passing through "Hope" (a small town along the route I normally drive - I love the irony here). I had do so in order to get to where I am, but I don't remember doing so. (Sidenote: The metaphor that the author of Hebrews uses early in the book is that of a boat drifting aimlessly on the water - see 2:1)
The author exhorts us to be attentive to this because he knows that in the midst of difficulty we have a tendency to miss things. We do not see the opportunities before us to help out another believer. We might even become so focused on being steadfast, that we do not see that others around us are losing their grip. Instead, we must "consider" others so that we are reaching out and not merely looking in.
When God made us, He made us to have relationships, first with Him, but also with one another. God exists from all eternity as Three Persons in loving relationship with one another. We bear the image of God in part by existing in loving relationships with other people. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as our self. We must be attentive so that we will recognize when others need us and therefore be ready:
- To say an encouraging word;
- To lend a helping hand;
- To comfort in times of need; and
- To strengthen in times of doubt
Other People Need Other People
One of the goals is that by our involvement in the life of someone, they too will become other focused. Our actions “stimulate” or “stir up” or “provoke” others to live and work for someone else's benefit.
What is our expectation when we do something for someone else? Do we look for them to "repay" us by doing something for us? I'm reminded of the scene in Field of Dreams where Ray (Kevin Costner's character), near the end of the movie, is upset that Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones' character) is getting to go into the cornfield. He recounts all that he has done, and says (paraphrase), "I've never once asked what's in it for me. But now I want to know what's in it for me." That's the way we frequently are. We never verbalize the question of what is in it for us, but somewhere in the back of our minds, the question lurks.
And it will come through to others. But to fulfill the command here, we should check that attitude and replace it with a different attitude. One that says that the debt is repaid not when they do something for us, but when they do something for someone else. The Biblical example is this: God has done a miraculous thing for us. He has saved us from our sin through the death of Jesus on the cross. We do not live now to repay him (we could not if we tried) but we carry the gospel to others that they might also be saved.
The reality for us is simple, we are either actively working to encourage one another to be other focused, or we are becoming self-absorbed and, therefore, useless for the kingdom of God.
So, if we are to encourage one another, our second task is to be attentive.