July 16 I Monday
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” —Hebrews 10:24-25
In Western culture, we prize individualism, independence and being a “self-made man,” but this militates against Christian living. As we are brought into relationship with Christ, we are also brought into relationship with each other, and being part of a church community is one instrumental way to develop our appetite for righteousness.
Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. Christ is the head and we, by the life of the Spirit, are members of His body. Paul goes on to explain, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you!’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). In the same way that every part of the body depends upon each other, God has given each member of the body of Christ different spiritual gifts “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). We need to be part of a community of believers where our gifts are developed and exercised, where we encourage each other through difficult situations and where we help meet each other’s needs by ministering to each other.
C.H. Spurgeon, a powerful preacher of the 19th century, was talking with a young man who thought he could be a Christian without going to church. Upon hearing this, Spurgeon removed a single coal from his living room fireplace and set it on the hearth. They went on talking for a while until Spurgeon asked him what had happened to the coal. The young man responded that it had become black after losing its fire and heat. Spurgeon then replied, “That’s why you need to be part of the church. It is only together that we are stimulated and grow. Like this coal taken out of the fire, it dies out on its own. But in the heat of the fire, all the other coals are stimulating it to go on glowing and giving off heat.”
God designed the Christian life to be an inter-dependent life. We are meant to be stimulated by fellowship with other believers, spurring “one another on towards love and good deeds.” God gave us our spiritual gifts so we can interact with the world at large, but also to teach, encourage and support our brothers and sisters in Christ. In fact, sometimes it is not disobedience that stunts our Christian growth but failing to involve ourselves in relationships where others can help us grow.
The royal love is to love your neighbour as yourself (James 2:8). This involves getting connected and interacting with others. God designed us to grow with and stimulate one another, with the church as the starting point for having our appetite for righteousness both fed and expressed.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for creating the church as a means to support each other and to express the gifts and righteousness You have placed within me. Help me to develop stronger relationships among Your people.