“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

Yesterday I was rushing to get out of the house for an afternoon walk with a friend; I am a professional rusher of a human. (Is it a concern that I frantically walk to get to my walking?) I find that God is also quite adept at slowing me down. As sure as we turned the corner, sweet Miss Corrine, eighty-two years young—and I do mean she’s youthful—pulled into her driveway, rolled down her window and fingered us over. This was not going to be fast.

She had just lost a friend who she’d known since she was six years old—the history on my street is thick. We listened to Miss Corrine empty her weariness as the primary caretaker for the family these past three months. She was plain exhausted, not having slept from watching the horrors of death and being present for the family. After several minutes of conversing with this gem of a woman and neighbor, we told her we’d check on her later this week and sprung across the street. Because we were walking, you know.

And then the reprimand. The place of our failure. The question:

“Now aren’t you two even going to give me a hug?” She said this from the other side of the street with her palms open.

We’re pathetic, I thought. We’re the worst, my friend mumbled. We trotted back across the street and Miss Corrine stuck her wise old head straight against my friend’s chest, her white hair lace wigs all wrapped up in my friend’s arms. I prayed over her, and then she reminded us of Romans 12:1 about offering our lives as living sacrifices, which is what she’d been doing. It was a sweetness we almost missed: Exchanging words of encouragement while it was still called “Today”.

Encourage Daily and Today

When the author of Hebrews says to encourage daily while it’s still Today, he’s talking about two different things. The daily piece means exactly what we might think: every day we need to speak words that lift the people around us, point out their strengths, pass out the cold water of cheer and comfort that keeps them running toward Christ. We need to do this daily, sometime while we’re in between sunrises. I want to be more this way, to offer the hug and prayer before someone has to chide it out of me.

But what about the “Today” part?

We’re to encourage because we won’t live in “Today” forever, and that doesn’t only mean in the 24 hours we’re currently breathing in. Today is this era of grace in which we’re living where people still have the opportunity to call on the Name of the Lord. We’re alive in a period of history when we can repent of our sin and receive the forgiveness and grace that is found in Jesus. This is on offer now, Today. So we encourage others with a peaceful sense of urgency—while we still can—pointing one another to the heart of Jesus.

Encourage For Soft Hearts

The author of Hebrews gives us an interesting reason for our dispensing encouragement often: so sin’s deceitfulness doesn’t harden our hearts. In some ways I find it surprising that out of all the combatants for sin’s deceitfulness, encouragement is the big remedy. Yet I also find it experientially true. When I reflect on the times in my life when the pleasures of sin felt so perfectly right and fulfilling, it was that good word from a friend or mentor or parent who said, remember God’s good promises, remember who He’s created you to be, remember He rewards obedience, remember God’s ways are always the best ways… I suppose in many respects it has been this encouragement that has kept my heart from callousing, since the encouragement is what often catapulted me to obedience, in turn protecting me from sin having its hardening way. [clickToTweet tweet=”Encouraging each other is more powerful than we often understand it to be. ” quote=”Encouraging each other is more powerful than we often understand it to be. “]

As we were leaving for our walk, Miss Corinne gave us a charge: “Don’t you ever forget us old people. We have a lot of wisdom, you know. And when you pass us by, don’t forget to smile or wave or talk to us. Let us know you see us.”

Indeed, we will, Miss Corrine. While it is still called “Today”.