But encourage one another daily, as long as
it is called Today, so that none of you may be
hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
We are admonished in this verse to encourage one another in order to prevent hardening by sin’s deceitfulness. I am not sure exactly how this process develops, but I am able to share a few thoughts about how it developed in my own life. It was well over thirty years ago when I began to be discouraged. Over the preceding ten years, I had been involved with others in the development of their discipleship. For some unexplained reason I began to experience resistance to the scriptures from some, and others began turning back to their old way of life. Individuals who were trained well in our Evangelism Explosion ministry at church had stopped sharing Christ and some were no longer having their daily devotional walk with the Lord. As I looked at others who had been discipled, I saw little fruit in their lives. I began to think that all this effort was in vain. I was not aware of much being accomplished in people’s lives and I considered the option of stopping meeting with others. This discouragement lasted for a few weeks and I essentially stopped walking by faith in God’s work in the lives of others. Romans 14:23 relates that “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” To continue in that path of “walking by sight” rather than “walking by faith” would result in a cessation of what God had called me to do and I would have been deceived by sin.
It was at this point, with little hope for the future of a discipleship ministry, that I related my discouragement to my wife before leaving for work that day. I had told no one else about the discouragement that had persisted for several weeks. After parking my car and entering the physician’s lounge I immediately met a Gastroenterologist whom I had not seen for a number of weeks. At once he began to thank me for leading a Studies in Christian Living course with other physicians at Wesley Medical Center five years previously. He related that he had been teaching those principles to his children and that they were enthusiastic about making them a part of their lives. As I left the lounge, marveling at the timing of his remarks, I met a Pediatrician who had attended the same study. He was an individual, again, that I had not seen for a while. He explained that he was now on the elder board of a Wichita church and that he was leading the other elders through the study we had completed five years earlier. He stated that it was having a significant impact on the church as well as on the members of the board. He, again, thanked me for the investment in his life. By this time, the Lord had my attention, but He was not finished with the morning yet.
I was assigned medical students and resident physicians in training to follow me and learn for segments of time varying from one to two months. My resident that month was somewhat reclusive and difficult to get to know. He was not a believer and I had not been too successful at developing a relationship with him. As we met for morning rounds to see the patients in the hospital that day he handed me a card saying. “I was at a dinner meeting for residents last night and sat next to a man who wanted me to give you his card.” I immediately recognized the name on the card as being from a surgeon who lived in Chanute, Kansas. My wife and I had met with him and his wife for Bible studies for a few years while he was in training in Wichita. The only notation on the card was a handwritten Bible reference in the upper right corner which read I Corinthians 15:58. The NIV translation is as follows: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” After looking at the card, I was overwhelmed with the impeccable timing by which the Lord had provided encouragement.
Upon returning home that evening, my wife gave me a card which she had written to me; assuring me of God’s constant promises, His presence, and restoring my confidence in His purposes for my life. I still have that card today. Since the day that these things took place, I have never wavered as to the Lord’s ability to “guard what He has entrusted to me for that day.” (II Timothy 1:12)
Everyone experiences discouragement. Most of the time it is unknown by others, but the Lord knows. He knows that we often need to receive thankfulness from others, a reminder of His care and provision, or to recall His promises in a Bible passage. We may never know how deeply our lives have encouraged others at the point of their need. For this reason, we are reminded in Hebrews 3:13 to “encourage one another daily.”
In Christ, Richard Spann