In 1973 Maurice and Maralyn Bailey, survived 118 days adrift, in a tiny dinghy, in the Pacific Ocean when their beloved yacht sank after colliding with a whale. They withstood sunburn, dysentery, dehydration and starvation before being rescued.

The secret of their survival? 


“Where one faltered, the other bolstered their flagging spirits.” They said.

Afterwards, reflecting on how their experience had brought them closer together, they commented:

“What else is a marriage, really, if not being stuck on a small raft with someone and trying to survive?”

All in this together

That’s not a bad metaphor for a marriage, or even a church! Because to see things as a shared endeavour, rather than a me-versus-you competition makes all the difference when any of us face life’s challenges.

This is where Hebrews has been heading for 10 chapters: following Jesus is tough, so we all need encouragers on board with us.

The voice behind Hebrews was that of a friend and an encourager (perhaps that’s why some think it was Barnabas) for their summons is always to “us”, not “you”.  We are all in this together.

We are going to zoom right in on 10:19 this week and three “let us”. Three responses to God’s grace we are to help one another into:” Let us draw near to God” (v22), “Let us hold unwaveringly to hope” (v23) and “let us consider how we might spur one another on (v24)”

Many of us are now following the run-up to the general election. Already the public discourse is adversarial and accusative. It can become all too easy for each of us to adopt a similar tone. To play verbal ping pong with pointy fingers and the blaming tongues. Too often we see life as a competition of winners and losers where we need to prove ourselves smarter or stronger than others and overlook the essential power of co-operation.

Scripture tells us that none of us are omnicompetent, know-it-all’s who are sufficient unto ourselves.

Gifted to one another

Quite the opposite. Marriage may be described as being stuck on a small raft with someone and trying to survive. Yet so too is church community. We are gifted to one another so that when one falters the other supports them, when one is down another can lift them up.

    Ecclesiastes 4:12

12 Though one may be overpowered,

    two can defend themselves.

   A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 

God grafts us into an interpersonal organism (the church) where we each have a unique and valuable contribution to make. In fact, we each have limitations and lack abilities. Our lack and limits are not to be disparaged but valued as the opportunities that create space for others to contribute their gifts and strengths.

So “let us” follow the invitation given here and think carefully about how we can spur others on, how we can specifically and practically provoke and stimulate one another to keep whole heartedly following Jesus. 

Here are a couple of simple practical actions we can purposefully employ to raise the encouragement temperature in our communities.

  1. Show appreciation:  catch people doing the right thing or showing Godly character and tell them. (I noticed you arrived early to put the coffee on for the meeting- I really appreciate that”)
  2. Express wonder: instead of diving in with a complaint or jumping to a conclusion about people that makes them defensive, express curiosity: “I was wondering why you didn’t switch off the lights after your group…”  this then allows you to call a person up to a better place: e.g. “it would be really helpful to us if you were to clean up after your group. 

And yes, it really would be helpful if we cleaned up after our groups – we appreciate it! Let us encourage one another!