Oikodom – Upward and Outward

logo full trans

When you get start a new year, what do you say to yourself about your hopes for it. When you look from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, what do you want to happen because you have lived? What difference do you want your life to make?

Aimlessness is akin to lifelessness. Dead leaves may move around more than anything else – more than the dog, more than the children. The wind blows this way, they go this way. The wind blows that way, they go that way. They tumble, they bounce, they skip, they press against a fence, but they have no aim whatsoever. They are full of motion and empty of life.

A life with an aim is powerful (To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29),

It is is freeing (You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13)

It is energizing. Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me" (John 4:34).

1. Live a life which are upward!

Hebrew 10: 19-23

Because God has made promises to you and he is faithful. He has promised to write the law on your heart (10:16) and work in you what is pleasing in his sight (13:21); he has promised to remember your sins no more (10:17); he has promised that we will be perfected for all time by a single sacrifice (10:14); he has promised never to leave us or forsake us (13:59); and he has promised to bring good from all our pain (12:10). And so he keeps his word.

2. Live a life which is outward

10:24 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds,

Here is the focus for your life. Here is what you aim at from morning till night as a Christian. Focus on helping others become loving people. Aim at stirring up others to do good deeds. And of course the implication would also be that if others need help and stirring, we do too, and so we would be aiming at what sorts of ways we can think and feel and talk and act that will stir each other up to love and to do good deeds. The aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds, but helping to stir up others to love and to good deeds.

Consider Each Other

There is something in this text that is very hard to bring over into English. The word "consider," ("Let us consider how to . . .") is used one other time in the book, namely, Hebrews 3:1, where the writer say says, "Consider Jesus." That is, look at him; think about him, focus on him, study him, let your mind be occupied with him. "Jesus" is the direct object of the verb "consider." "Consider Jesus." Consider what? Consider Jesus. Well, in Hebrews 10:24 the grammar is the same: the direct object of the word "consider" is "one another." Literally, it says, "Consider one another."

When you get up in the morning, "Consider – think about, ponder, deliberate, meditate, mull over – other people, with this conscious goal: what can I do today so that they will be stirred up to love and to good deeds?

Then verse 25 gives us instructions how. It says, " 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.."

Two things. First, don’t neglect to get together.

Second, encourage one another.

I hear this text referred to most often as an argument for regular attendance at worship services. "Come to church regularly." And that is not a wrong application of the text since one of the most important kinds of encouragements and exhortations that we get is from the preaching of God’s word in the power of God’s Spirit.

But in the context, the kind of coming together in view seems to be one where the members "encourage one another." Verse 25 is explicit: come together and encourage one another. The "one another" implies that there is something mutual going on. One is encouraging another and another is encouraging one.  Each is doing or saying something that encourages. If you ask what that corresponds to in our church, I would say the closest thing is the small groups – which is why I regard this ministry as so utterly crucial.

What Kind of Encouragement?

The key to encouraging love Biblically is given in verse 23: " Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

Because God is faithful. He keeps his promises. Without this kind of hope, sustaining you day by day through all the disheartening frustrations and crushing disappointments, you would not have any strength or energy or joy to stir anybody up to love and good deeds.

But if you bank on God, not on yourself, you always have something encouraging and hope-giving to say, namely, "God can be trusted, God can be trusted. I have no strength, but God can be trusted."

And as you see the end of the age drawing near, verse 25 says, do this all the more, not less. Why? As Jesus said, "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved" (Matthew 24:12).