This week I am going to finish up my series on the one anothering passages in the New Testament. There are still several more that I did not get to. Perhaps I will come back to the rest of them in the future. But today and the next few days, we are going to look at Hebrews 10:24 where we are told to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10 begins by showing how Christ’s sacrifice and work as our high priest accomplished what the sacrifices and work of the high priests symbolized. We have been forgiven. There is no more need for sacrifices. For this reason Christ was able to do something no human high priest was able to do: sit. Hebrews 10:12-14 (NIV), But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Because of this, we have access to the Father that was symbolized by the High Priest going into the Most Holy Place, the innermost part of the Temple, and that was only entered once a year and only with the blood of sacrifice. We are now free to draw near to God because by faith in Christ our sins have been forgiven; we can approach God with a clear conscience. Think about that! If we have faith in Christ, we do not need to worry about being accepted. We don’t need to be afraid of coming into His presence. We can walk right in and get as close to God as your heart desires. Christ is fully accepted, and because of Him, in Him we are also fully accepted and loved.
In light of that truth we are told in verse 23 to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
How do we hold to the hope we profess? The answer is given in 10:24-25 (NIV), And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the
habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
In these two verses we are directed to hold on to the hope we have in Christ in four ways:
- Spur one another on toward love. The Greek word behind spur is the word “to provoke,” “to stir up.” In a negative context it means to dispute, contend, or exasperate. In a positive context (like it is used here) it means to entice or motivate. We are to entice one another towards love. Love is the core, the DNA of the Christian life as is made clear in the Great Commandment, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [and] ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets [Jesus says,] hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).
- Spur one another on to good deeds. My favorite definition of love is John Piper’s: Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others. If we are loving one another it is going to be shown in doing good to and for one another. That is how love works. The feeling of love in the heart motivates our will to act in accordance with it. To spur one another on toward love is to spur one another on toward good deeds.
- Continuing to meet together. We can’t spur one another on toward love and good deeds if we neglect getting together. Spurring, enticing, and motivating requires relationship, it requires community, it requires being together.
- Encourage one another. It doesn’t take long to realize that loving one another, doing good to and for one another, and regularly meeting together to do so requires encouragement. Life’s trials, the devil’s schemes, and our own sin make it often seem like it is swimming against the current to keep up this work. We need to constantly be reminded of the sufficiency of Christ, the reality and trustworthiness of His promises, and the loving support of one another to pick us up when we falter or fall so that we can get back up and get back at it without being discouraged.
The way we hold on to the hope we have in Christ is to practice it, to live it out day in and day out. This hope is not to be only passively accepted and believed, but actively lived; it is a way of life. This is why the Puritans defined Christianity as living for God through Christ. The faith we have in Christ leads to hope in Christ and comes with love for Christ which then effects and directs our whole life. Faith results in practice. It results in love and good deeds and moves us to meet together and encourage one another so that our love is always getting better and sweeter and producing more and more good.