This week I got back in the swimming pool for the first time in more than three months. I did not pick up where I left off. I will need to train harder in order to return to what I consider a more “normal” speed and distance. Habit experts tell us that it takes somewhere between six to ten weeks to build a habit like exercise, but 14 days or less to break one. That is why scripture is filled with positive exhortations to not stop doing the things that feed spiritual health and vitality.
"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer." (Hebrews 10:25 GNT)
In other words, don’t neglect Christian fellowship. One of my biggest concerns during this pandemic, is that the longer we are apart physically, the more we will tend drift in our connection with God and each other. We are made for community. We need each other and specifically the encouragement we receive from each other. The verse immediately before Hebrews 10:25, stresses that each of us has a responsibility to encourage someone else.
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." (Hebrews 10:25)
Last time I checked,“let us” means each of us, not some of us. You are not exempt from God’s call to motivate someone else to follow Jesus. Let that sink in. You are responsible to motivate someone else (positively, not negatively).
When I think of motivating someone, I think of the act of gracious encouragement. The parent who encourages their child by saying “you can do it!” but will love them just the same if they fall short. I am motivated by someone who both accepts me and pushes me to be better. Who has been that in your life? I think of a college friend who invited me to do a Bible study together. Knowing that he was doing his part each week motivated me to not only show up, but to show up prepared.
These days of social distancing provide the perfect excuse for many of us to fade in our involvement, neglect Christian community and disengage in spiritual disciplines like studying scripture and prayer. If we do, we open ourselves up for a season of spiritual atrophy. When you get back in the pool spiritually speaking, you will not be in the shape you were in when you disengaged. I want to encourage each of us to ask ourselves two questions: Who can I motivate to continue pursuing Christ? What are some ways that I might inspire, encourage and motivate them to grow closer to Christ? What I have discovered, is that by focusing on helping someone else, I grow stronger.
Yours in Christ,