How Faith Flourishes
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.—Hebrews 10:24-25
The book of Hebrews is saturated with lessons, illustrations, and reasons for faith. The writer understood what we can easily forget—faith flourishes in community. We don’t go off by ourselves to grow spiritually. The condition of our faith is a result of the quality of our relationship with God and with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 includes two specific ways in which faith flourishes, and they both rely heavily on others. The writer pointed to stir[ring] up one another and encouraging one another as key growth habits for followers of Jesus. And he made it clear that this process starts, not by expecting others to do for us, but by considering how we may cause the faith of others to flourish.
The phrase “stir up one another” has an edge to it in the original. It can be translated as “provoke one another.” The idea is to lovingly call out and challenge one another to love and do good. Mutual accountability is about sharing with each other how we’re doing, but it’s also pushing each other to do better. Sometimes this happens spontaneously, but usually, if we want to effectively stir one another up, or challenge a brother or sister to step up their Christian walk, we ought to prayerfully consider how best to do it.
Encouraging one anotheris connected to the importance of living in community with other believers. We can’t encourage one another unless we are regularly together. When we are invested in mutual encouragement and standing with one another, we are also learning to function well as Christ’s body, whatever may happen—even as “the Day” draws near, the return of Christ.
Faith flourishes in the company of other growing disciples. Friendship with authentic believers increases your own capacity to trust God. If you don’t have relationships with others who are following Jesus, you are undermining your own faith. Too many of us accept living among doubters, instead of seeking and maintaining company with other encouraging believers.
You may feel like you can’t get away from unbelief at work, but are you in a small group? Are you intentionally connected with other Christians? When you have an evening to spare, who do you spend time with? What do you talk about?
Faith also flourishes in the household of God. Going to church should be a continual exercise in faith strengthening. It’s sad to see the amazing attendance in many churches on Easter Sunday, followed by a significant drop the following week. Why does that happen? Because too many people think, “I was just there last week!” They are missing an important weekly dose of fellowship that will spur their faith to grow.
Is your faith struggling? You can almost always trace the problem to the absence of one of these factors: exposure and obedience to God’s Word, encouragement of God’s people, or involvement in worship. Leave any of these out and you will undermine your faith.
Go to church—go every week. Don’t just make it a habit, make it your lifestyle. Some may object, “But my church is so stale!” Just make sure the problem isn’t with your attitude. Then if God isn’t attending your church, find one where He does show up.
God is rocking the house every week in many places around the world. Go meet with Him and His people, and fire up your faith! As Hebrews 10:25says, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” Don’t forsake or neglect gathering with other believers. Your faith will flourish.
· Which of those three faith boosters is currently the weakest of your commitments: exposure to God’s Word, encouragement of God’s people, involvement in worship?
· What can you do this week to change that equation? When will you do it?
Lord, You not only feed my faith directly by Your faithfulness, You surround me with undeniable opportunities to see my faith and the faith of others flourish. Father, make an uncaring and resisting attitude profoundly distasteful to me. Develop in me a growing awareness of what others need by way of provocation or encouragement to make their faith grow. I ask You for this work in my life in Jesus’ name, amen.