Let’s take a look at Hebrews 3:13:
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (NIV)
The King James Version reads as follows:
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (KJV)
The Greek word translated as “encourage“ in NIV, and “exhort” in KJV of this verse is “parakaleite”. Among its synonyms are: beseech, entreat, beg, exhort, admonish, comfort, encourage, and console.
This verse is saying that we Christians should encourage each other regularly about sins with which we see each other struggling.
Evil can be deceitful, and often we don’t see sinful behavior in ourselves, but others very well may recognize evil in our lives. We need to caution each other about bad behavior before our sins become habitual, and therefore very difficult to eliminate.
The Bible scholar, Matthew Henry, says it this way: “Sin has so many ways and colors, that we need more eyes than our own.”
Making others aware of sinful behavior in their lives can be a tricky business, to say the least. People don’t want to be lectured about themselves. It must be done in a positive, encouraging manner.
The pastor at church can do this for his congregation each week during his sermon. His message is one that he hopes will be helpful to a large number of people in the church. Often, however, he doesn’t know the private behavior of all his people intimately enough to be able to talk to them, one on one, about specific sins they are confronting.
Certainly family members can admonish each other, most commonly, parents pushing their children in the right direction, the old entreating the young away from various sins, and spouses warning each other about sin they have observed in their partner’s life.
I personally have only a couple of members of my family that I feel comfortable admonishing, if I see them behaving in a way that is sinful. Outside of my family, however, there is no one else that I would exhort about sin, and that is not a good thing.
I have many friends and acquaintances, but no one whom I feel I can go up to and say, “Harry, I know that you have been struggling with drinking lately, let‘s talk about it” Likewise, I have no one to whom I would say, “Bob, you use the Lord’s name in vain a lot during conversations with me. Were you aware of that?”
This problem works both ways. I also don’t have anyone who will point out my sins to me. I tend not to speak about close, personal matters with people, so I’m sure that is an important factor. Also, I don’t experience much close Christian fellowship, because I attend church irregularly.
We all need others to help us in our battle against sin. I need someone who will say, “Bibleguy, 64 is too old to be reading those supermarket tabloids each week. There is nothing positive or educational about them. Let‘s go for a drive to the library.” (A little humor) The point is that I, like everyone else, need to have my errant behavior tactfully pointed out to me, in case I don’t realize how off track I have gotten.
Christianblog.com is actually a positive factor for me (and I suspect others also) in this area. Although it is anonymous, there is Christian fellowship on this site. Spiritual matters are constantly discussed, and there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to encourage each other about struggles with sin, as well as many other topics.
Personal isolation is increasing for many in our modern society. Meaningful Christian fellowship is needed now more than ever.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 NIV)