Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13).
What do we really need in life?
The needy or greedy might say: “Money.” The downtrodden might need power. The terminally ill will cry out for “health” anytime. The helpless might choose “hope”.
These are all legitimate needs through our changing seasons. Yet, one need remains constant for every human heart: Our need for friendship.
Hebrews 3:13 tells us we need “one another”. Indeed, authentic Christianity is the “one another” faith. We are called to “love one another”, “pray for one another”, “forgive one another”, “serve one another”, “teach one another”. And the list goes on.
A simple test of authentic faith in Jesus our Lord is our need of “one another”. If we presume ourselves believers, yet have no increasing need of the beauty of another believer’s love, prayer and ministry – we need to reflect honestly on the state of our spiritual condition.
Hebrews 3:13 commands us to “exhort one another”. To exhort is to come alongside (from the Greek word “parakaleo”) to appeal, advice or admonish about God and the things of God.
Mentally picture a spiritual running buddy, matching us step for step, with one simple goal to finish the race of being faithful to Jesus – no matter what how dire our situation.
The Christians in the house churches in the epistle of Hebrews were facing persecution and imprisonment. They were tempted to withdraw from their two most precious friendships – with the Lord Jesus and with his people.
That is why in Hebrews 2:11-12, the writer tells them not to be ashamed of Jesus – despite their shaming circumstances – for he “is not ashamed to call them brothers”.
Here in Hebrews 3, he tells them not to neglect the privileged friendship of the Lord Jesus through the needed friendship of his people. We need Christian friendship to exhort us not to be blinded by sin – the most dangerous of which is “apostasy” – which is doing a “U-turn” on Jesus.
Today, we woke up to the news of the passing away of the great country and western singer Glen Campbell aged 81. He was a genius guitarist who played for a bevy of stars – from Elvis Presley to the Righteous Brothers – before he shot to solo fame.
Despite his music fame, he struggled with alcoholism and cocaine addiction. In 1981, he became a born-again Christian, and in 1982, he married Kimberly Woollen, a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, who helped Campbell clean up his life.
He eventually turned to hymns. “I love singing gospel music and hymns. Being a Christian, I love to tell people about Christ and what he’s done for me and can do for them,” Campbell said in 1990.
But he still struggled with the party scene that came with musical fame, as reported in a Christian news network.
“I used to argue with my pastor about how much wine they drank in the Bible. “Jesus turned water into wine,” I’d remind him. He’d look at me, shake his head and say, “Glen, when you can change water into wine, then maybe you can drink it.”
“When God lifted my obsession for alcohol it was as if he raised the curtain on a whole new life. He changed me in ways I never could have changed myself, and that is the key. Kim and I have a real marriage now, an honest marriage.
“Today I truly have a peace ‘which passeth all understanding’. I really don’t understand it. But I thank the Lord all the time. I am a man richly blessed, despite myself. For all that God has given me, there is nothing for which I am more thankful than Kim.”
You and I all need not just any friendship but an “exhorter” or spiritual buddy like Campbell’s wife, Kim.
We need a spiritual friend to appeal, advice or admonish us. We need a spiritual buddy, matching us step for step, with one simple goal to finish the race of being faithful to Jesus.
I thank God that my wife is my best friend and closest spiritual buddy. I praise God also for the many spiritual buddies he has given me in his church over the years.
Spiritual mates keep us on the straight and narrow path of following Jesus in our world of many alternative but destructive roads.
So, pray for an exhorter or spiritual friend amongst God’s people. That is what we desperately need to run and finish this wonderful race of faith. Amen.