and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Walking out Jesus’ words and ways is easier said than done—easier talked about than lived out. Left to ourselves and to our flesh, we are prone to wander away from God and not act in love toward others. But Jesus never intended us to live the Christian life alone. We need people around who are strong in the areas we are weak. We need fellow sinners to have compassion when we fall short and the courage to challenge us to be faithful. We need others to stimulate and spur us on to look more like Jesus.

However, that kind of community can’t be facilitated if we forsake gathering. And if we gather but never spur one another on, we miss part of the richness of community. These two realities go hand-in-hand. If we faithfully gather as the community of God, then we can be aware of the ways we need to encourage and challenge one another. When we have authentic and deep relationships that allow us to speak grace and truth to one another, then our gathered worship is all the richer.

We might be tempted to treat church and our approach to God as a holy vending machine. We show up, do the right things, check all the boxes, and expect God to return a reward. But that kind of transactional Christianity doesn’t come close to a community of people encouraging one another to live more in the image of Christ. Instead of viewing our relationship with God as an isolated experience, we are called to spur one another on. In seasons where we are struggling and needy, what a grace it is to have a faithful friend who can meet us in the muck. And when we are in a healthy place, what a privilege to be able to extend a hand to someone else who needs Jesus’ encouragement.

  • Who in your life and community spurs you on to love well and live out your faith? What are some of the ways they have done that?
  • How are you speaking into others’ lives and encouraging them to walk closer with Jesus?
  • Thank God for the gift and challenge of Christian community. Thank Him for the people who have challenged and loved you in grace and truth. Ask Him for tangible ways to do the same for others.