Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stirring One Another Up, Part 4


(This is the last post in a series regarding the importance of biblical relationships/fellowship.  You can find the other articles here:   Part 1   Part 2    Part 3)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  (Hebrew 10:24-25)
We have looked at biblical imperatives regarding fellowship with one another.  We’ve also considered what it might look like to engage in these relationships in a biblical way.  Now let’s think about why this is so important (in addition to the fact that God says it is.)  There are at least a couple of practical reasons that we must engage in biblical fellowship.
First, it is essential for our own spiritual growth.  As we attempt to put off sin and put on godliness, biblical fellowship serves to keep us on track.  Without it, we will inevitably return to old habits and fail.  Remember, God has designed sanctification so that it cannot happen without coming together with other believers to stir one another up to love and good deeds.  If we are going to attempt to grow without fellowship, we might as well be trying to grow without the Bible or prayer.
I’ve seen it numerous times while counseling people who are struggling terribly in their walk with the Lord.  No passion.  No growth.  No vibrancy.  The drudgery of their spiritual walk is so bad that they wonder if they are even saved.  Yet, they are in the Word.  They are spending time in prayer.  And it seems inexplicable to them why their walk with the Lord seems so dead. 
But when by God’s grace they are persuaded to plug in that third component – meaningful relationships with believers – they begin to grow like crazy, they have joy, they have vibrancy, and they grow in their love for God.  In other words, they are stirred up to love and good works. 
You may be in that situation right now.  You’re in the Word and you’re praying, and yet it seems that walking with the Lord is an all uphill battle.  There is no joy, no love, no vibrancy.  Ask yourself this question:  Do I have relationships with other believers with whom I meet regularly for the purpose of stirring one another up to love and good deeds?  If the answer is “no,” that’s your problem. 
Second, it is essential for the spiritual health of those around you.  If you don’t do this, not only will you not grow, but you will be unavailable to help others grow.  Remember that Ephesians 4 tells us that we have all been gifted by God to serve the body and that the body only builds itself up in love “when each part is working properly.”  In other words, we are responsible not only engage in meaningful relationships for our own spiritual growth, but also so that others may grow due to our service in their lives.  So my spiritual health will directly affect yours and vice versa. 
We must treat biblical fellowship as essential, not optional.  We must view gathering with other believers for the purpose of stirring one another up as an indispensable component of our own spiritual health and the spiritual health of the believers around us. 
If we leave this piece out of the equation, the rest of our efforts to grow in godliness will be in vain.  We cannot live the Christian life alone.  We must walk alongside others in some meaningful capacity, not just by showing up at church.  We need others stirring us up to love and good deeds and we need to be doing it for others.  There is no other way.
“But what if I’m too busy.”  This is a super common objection.  Perhaps, you’ve got too much going on to imagine adding this discipline to your schedule.  Remember that this is a matter of obedience to the Scriptures.  If you are too busy to obey the Scriptures, then you are literally too busy, and something needs to go in order to make room for what is essential.  Some of us have kids who are in sports eight nights a week.  If that is what’s in the way, cut it back to five or six nights a week.  Whatever it is that is not biblically essential, cut it back to make room for what is biblically essential.
Don’t think of biblical fellowship as a drain on your time or another burden to bear.  It is a God-given opportunity to be used by Him in the life of another.  It is a blessing.  Meaningful relationships are practical conduits through which we love one another by stirring one another up to love and good deeds.  Clearly we’ve been called to this.  Let’s obey Him for His glory and our own good!

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