How many times have we been reminded by life experience that the path due to our calling is not always simple and easy to follow?
We are instructed to enter the Kingdom of God by “the narrow gate” (Matthew 7:14). Yet Christ was aware of the challenges that His followers would face. He left us, from the apostles forward, with encouragement through a solid focus on the big picture.
Encouragement is a vehicle to strengthen relationships and build bonds. We, as part of God’s family, have a personal responsibility to uplift and support one another: “…let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,…exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV.
“Exhort” carries a personal connotation of encouragement through close friendships. For some in the Church, their choice to obey God is a lonely one. They may be the only person in their birth family or in their current family to follow God’s way. Fellowship then takes on an added importance as church family.
We have trials and challenges that make the path difficult. They test us, help us develop resolve and godly character. But challenges can be mitigated if we take it upon ourselves to offer mutual support.
The annual Feast of Tabernacles is a time of great encouragement. We experience cooperation, generosity, and genuine outgoing concern as we gather together for eight days. We need to replicate that dynamic all throughout the year at weekly Sabbath services.
Consider the needs of each member. As we get to know each other on a deeper level we build trust and teamwork. The world around us is self-centered and without gratitude. We can’t afford to let that rub off on us.
Truly appreciate the efforts of others, and be generous with your thanks. Those who manage technology at services deserve our gratitude, as do those who set-up and take-down, prepare potlucks and flowers, serve in the ministry, and all the other “behind-the-scenes” efforts that may go unnoticed.
Parents who are striving to instill godly values in their children need our encouragement. And our thanks should even include all the brethren who pray daily on behalf of the whole congregation. We all have a part to play!
Christ encourages us by emphasizing the big picture: “…if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also,” John 14:3. Hang in there – endure to the end! There is a place ready for us. What a confidence-builder!
Encourage others to maintain the faith and continue the race. As joint citizens of a godly community we—like the heroes of Hebrews chapter eleven—need to have faith in God’s plan. Put your trials and difficulties in a long-term context and understand the temporary nature of this life. “Real” life is what we look forward to at Christ’s return.
This is God’s promise: “…I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you…I will help you,” Isaiah 41:10. The narrow path may not be the easy way, but we can move forward together with confidence toward the soon-coming Kingdom of God!
by Gary MacPherson