But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. - Vs 13 (NASB)
According to this passage, we have an obligation to one another. Both to our believing brothers and sisters and to those in our sphere of influence who remain unbelieving. This verse commands us to encourage one another daily. That word "encourage" is the word parakaleo in the Greek. It means to "come alongside to give help, exhortation, entreaty, comfort, or instruction." We are to play a significant part in one anothers’ lives every day. But our encouragement is more than a pat on the back or a token "hang in there." The context of this verse is a warning to not follow the example of the people of Israel, who provoked God to wrath. The children of Israel challenged God's authority and tried His patience. They grumbled and complained during their days of wilderness wandering. They didn't like the manna He miraculously provided. They didn't approve of the leadership He selected. They saw God's miraculous works for 40 years, but still chose to turn from Him on a regular basis. In short, they did not know His ways. They did not believe.
That seems to be the warning here. A warning against unbelief. In verse 12 we read, "Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you and evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." One translation puts it this way: "My brothers, take care that there is not by chance in any one of you an evil heart without belief, turning away from the living God" (BBE). This is not a warning against losing your faith. It is a warning about having never had faith to begin with. So we are called to exhort or encourage one another to true faith. Otherwise, we will end up the same way the children of Israel did – with hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is tricky, deceptive, and can easily delude us into rejecting God. Sin seldom appears as what it really is. It lies and deceives. And over time it can cause our hearts to harden toward the message and mercy of God.
Sin convinces us that we aren't even sinners. It causes us to self-justify and rationalize away our behavior as necessary and acceptable. And in so doing, we call God a liar. We reject His assessment of us and rebel against His authority. So we are called to encourage one another day after day. To do what? To believe! To trust! To obey! To listen to His voice and not harden our hearts (Vs 7-8). We are to encourage one another to live by faith. To believe in the promises of God and the reality of the cross. Read what the author of Hebrews has to say later in his letter:
And a righteous person will live by faith. But I will have no pleasure in anyone who turns away. But we are not like those who turn their backs on God and seal their fate. We have faith that assures our salvation. – Hebrews 10:38-39
We have a faith that believes and assures our salvation. We don't fall away. We don't rebel. We don't allow the deceitfulness of sin to delude us and deceive us into rejecting God and His Word. To do so would be to have never believed at all. You can't lose a faith you never had to begin with. True, saving faith continues to believe. But we must be there to encourage one another when difficulties arise to continue believing the truth of God and to reject the falsehood of sin. And we need to do it as long as today is still called "today." Because the time is short.
Father, I want to be more of an encourager of those around me. I want to come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ and exhort them to continue believing. But I also want to challenge the unbelieving people all around me to examine their hearts and to accept the gracious gift You have offered them. I want to warn them to not allow the lies of sin to harden their hearts against you and seal their own fate. Make me more of an encourager every day. Amen