The Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede is a cross-country meet unlike any other. Each seven-member team runs as a unit, holding a rope for the first two miles of a three-mile course. At the two-mile mark, the team drops the rope and finishes the race individually. Each person’s time is, therefore, a combination of the pace the team kept and his or her own speed.
This year, my daughter’s team opted for a strategy I had not previously seen: They put the fastest runner at the front and the slowest right behind her. She explained that their goal was for the strongest runner to be near enough to speak words of encouragement to the slowest runner.
Their plans depicted for me a passage from the book of Hebrews. The writer urges us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Hebrews 10:23) as we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (v. 24). There are certainly many ways of accomplishing this, but the author highlighted one: “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (v. 25). Gathering together with other believers as we’re able is a vital aspect of the life of faith.
The race of life can feel like more than we can handle at times, and we may be tempted to drop the rope in hopelessness. As we run together, let’s offer one another the encouragement to run strong!
Jesus, thank You for the hope You offer. Thank You for never discouraging us. Help us imitate You by encouraging each other today.
Encouragement is water to the soul.
By the blood of Jesus our high priest (Hebrews 10:19–22) we can enter the Most Holy Place, that is, we can come directly into God’s presence. However, the author is using these two ideas—Jesus’s sacrifice and our access to God—in tandem. The point in this passage is not because Jesus sacrificed for us we can enter God’s presence, but rather because we have a path to God, we are now to act. We are to draw near to Him (v. 22), hold to our hope (v. 23), encourage each other (v. 24), and meet together (v. 25).
A significant aspect of this passage is the author’s repeated use of the first-person plural. Seven times the author uses this construction and three times it’s in the exhortation “let us” (vv. 22, 23, 24). The implication is that our salvation has a community impact. Together we are part of the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12). The Christian life is to be lived in relationship with others, encouraging each other to be more like Christ.