The writer of Hebrews calls his readers to “consider” carefully several things. The first thing in Hebrews 3:1 is Jesus. He just wants us to reflect and meditate on the superiority of Jesus. He’s greater than the prophets! He’s greater than the angels! He’s greater than Moses! He’s greater than the Levitical priests and he’s greater than the entire sacrificial system including the tabernacle and all its accoutrements and rituals. All of these things are simply shadows of the “real thing” which is Jesus himself. Now in Hebrews 10:23 he wants his readers to reflect on and think deeply about what motivates people to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 then guides our thinking in this regard. As the ultimate expression of God’s love for all mankind depicted in Romans 5:8 and John 3:16, reflecting and meditating on that is what changes lives and moves individuals to love each other and do good for each other.

There is something else that helps motivate us to love and good works; that’s encouraging fellowship with others! It’s not a fellowship based on legal observations. It’s not a fellowship based on rules, rituals and regulations. It’s a fellowship based on “encouragement.” Kent says, “This encouragement might take the form of exhorting those who wavered, urging them to steadfastness, comforting those whose Christian commitment had brought trouble and distress, or by lending a strengthening hand to whoever needed it.”[1] Yet it’s the potential of the Hebrew believers to slip back into the religious rituals of Judaism that is the main focus of encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 says, “…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.”

When you desert the camp of the forgiven, the only option is to return to the appeal of the religious systems all around you. If we forsake the believers in Jesus who insist that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins once and for all, we must go back to the system of daily performance to try on our own to earn God’s acceptance. When Jesus isn’t enough, we lose the joys of “rest” in the finished, completed work of Jesus on our behalf. If we let the religious leaders around us insist on circumcision or anything else as a measure of our standing with God, we lose our peace, joy and rest! Meeting together is to reinforce our faith in the full sufficiency of Christ’s work for us, not to reinforce our need to work for God’s acceptance. We need each other to encourage us with this truth because the pull of religion is all around us and is sometimes so subtle we don’t even recognize it. We need each other to keep us in God’s peace and rest through faith in Christ’s finished work.

[1] Homer A. Kent Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1983), 203.