The new year is off to a great start!
The boys are applying themselves to their school work (most of the time), we’ve followed through on our goal to be more hospitable (and it’s been great fun!), there have been lots of positive comments on the blog (thank you!), and the adorable grandboy was here for a visit on Saturday.
In our study of Hebrews 3 this week, verse thirteen uses the Greek word parakaleo for “encouragement” which is from the same root as the word used for the Holy Spirit in John 14:6: “Helper.”
As encouragers, our instructions are to come alongside one another and help. In the original context, the author is urging his readers to help others in the faith to stay true to the teachings of Christ, to embrace fully their new identity in Christ rather than going back to the Levitical system of temple sacrifices.
To enhance our understanding of “encouragement,” we’ll be using the resources at Biblegateway.com where it is possible to look at any verse of the Bible in multiple translations. (If you’ve never used Biblegateway.com, I recommend opening another window and following the prompts I’ll be sharing, so that you can practice using this helpful resource. I have added pictures from the site to demonstrate.)
Type the reference into the first field, choose a version from the drop down menu and then click on “search.” Here’s the verse we’re studying today:
To read Hebrews 3:13 in over 50 English translations, click on the red type and see that “encourage” and “exhort” are used interchangeably in the verse. The Message renders it “watch your step” and “make sure.”
Want to narrow the choice down to a few versions? Click on the brown icon to the far right to add parallel views.
Below are the NKJV and NIV. Keep clicking on the icon for additional versions — or delete unwanted versions by clicking on the “x.”
Click on the speaker icon to hear Hebrews 3 being read aloud! The left icon with the arrow allows you to share the verse on social media, and the print icon . . . well, you know what that’s for. You can print the verse and carry it in your pocket to help you memorize it!
Viewing multiple versions makes it clear that the “daily” encouragement believers are called to seems to be tied to edification or building one another up in the truth — rather than just helping someone to feel better. In fact, sometimes, “encouraging” another believer means saying hard truth, delivering a sober message about attitudes that have cropped up or habits of speech that don’t glorify God.
Hebrews 3:13 makes it clear that we are called to this ministry of encouragement because sin is deceitful — the concept of inertia comes to mind. The tendency is to stay in the negative pattern unless acted upon by an outside force. I need the outside force of exhortation because at times my heart is unable to discern its own motives. The Reformation Study Bible (another reference available through Biblegateway.com) hits the nail on the head:
“Sin promotes the illusion that disobedience is more secure or pleasurable than the pilgrimage of faith.”
Inertia-busting exhortation reveals truth to the deceived heart.
Now, go back to the original screen showing Hebrews 3:13 and notice the banner above the verse:
See where it says “study this”? One click gives you access to Study Bible Notes, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Maps. Clicking on the Dictionary of Bible Themes yields a drop-down menu of 24 different topics to explore in Hebrews 3:13. We’re looking at encouragement today:
To believingly follow Jesus Christ is to watch out for our fellow believers. Tim Kimmel puts it memorably:
“True greatness is a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others.”
The question is, do I love others enough to take the risk — and to take the time — to speak hard truth or to point out an area of giftedness that is not being fully utilized?
Are you willing to be the outside force that the Holy Spirit uses to encourage a fellow believer onto a better path?
Pull your chair a little closer to the table and join us for a study in The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. My class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book. These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday. We’re only three weeks into the study, so it’s not too late to catch up by reading Hebrews 1 -3, and, if you’re interested, last week’s blog post.
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