And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24
I recently preached a message at my church on Hebrews 10:24-25. This passage challenges believers to consider ways to stir up one another to love and good works by gathering together and encouraging each other. As a follow up, I thought it would be helpful to write some articles for the next couple of weeks to stimulate in our minds and hearts ways to encourage and stir up one another in our churches and communities. The purpose will be to study God’s Word and use our own creativity to find ways to practically live out this command from Hebrews 10:24. Hopefully this will be the first of several articles that can help us think of ways to outdo one another in love.
Bear With One Another
One phrase from the Apostle Paul that always makes me giggle a little is when he commands Christians to “bear with one another” or as the NIrV says in our modern lingo “put up with each other”. The quote is slightly laughable because it accurately presumes that we as humans are not always easy to get along with. A part of considering how to stir one another up in love and good deeds is being able to get over our differences.
This idea of bearing with one another comes from two verses in the writings of Paul: Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:2. Both passages are encouraging the church to love one another, and each has a slightly different focus. Let’s look at both passages, find the distinctives, and come to some practical ways we can use these truths to stir up one another.
Forgive One Another
The Colossians verse contains many ways believers are to live because they are in Christ. Paul points out in 3:11 that all differences we once had become moot under the truth that we are servants of Christ above all else. Neither race nor social class, neither profession nor political bent exist in Christ, when we are Christ’s he is in all and is all. Our difference are secondary to our unity in Jesus.
In light of that we are to be humble, kind, meek, patient, and, as we are focusing on here, to bear with one another. Paul helps us to do this by commanding us to forgive each other as Christ has forgiven us. This is a great application for stirring up one another. What better way to encourage our community than to live everyday with a heart of forgiveness. In this time of fear and confusion many will say and do things that will harm us and others. As Christians, we will need to be ready to forgive and bear with those offenses. On the other hand, we can also seek forgiveness. We are not perfect. We have and will hurt others and need to be ready to seek forgiveness as well as give it. What a great way to stir up the church in love!
Eager to Maintain Unity
Ephesians 4:1-5 uses a lot of the same language as Colossians (humility, gentleness, patience), but it has a slightly different focus. In Ephesians, Paul is encouraging believers to eagerly bear with one another for the sake of unity in the Spirit. True unity in Christ does not come from having similar hobbies, careers, or movie preferences. It comes from having one Spirit. Verse 3 says our bond is that of peace – peace with God because of Christ’s sacrifice. We are united in our common salvation through the savior. Therefore we should be eager to maintain that unity because it was bought with a price. We can bear with one another because Christ bore our sins on the cross.
Practically speaking, we should be a people who are visibly eager. Eager to make Christ known, eager to love fellow believers in spite of our differences, and eager to keep the body united. What does this eagerness look like? Call someone who you have not seen since last time you met in person. Message someone who you do not normally talk to because you run in different circles. The bond of peace that we share with fellow believers is one that we should eagerly hold on to by bearing with all differences and barriers that seem to keep us apart.
You have probably heard the old adage “blood is thicker than water.” We use it to express how much more important family is than normal friendships.. However, I have been told that this idiom comes from an older saying that goes something like: “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” What a great truth? The bond that we have in Christ’s blood is deeper and stronger than any other. May we be a people willing to bear with one another in order to keep that bond and stir each other up to love and good works in the name of Christ.