Have you ever been there? That moment you realize something you once considered abrasive, offensive, and impure you’ve now been numbed to, maybe even accepting of it. Whether it be a worldly song, an unbiblical ethical stance, or immodest clothing — it has gone from being wrong in your mind to simply commonplace. Maybe I’m not singing that song, thinking those thoughts, or wearing that outfit, but it’s not a big deal when others do. I know I have been there. How did that happen? I ask myself. How could that have been so unacceptable to me at one time, and now I hardly give it a second thought?
Hebrews 3:13 says, “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.” I’m pretty sure Paul wasn’t joking when he said “every day.” He knew that he could not over-emphasize that fact, because it is very easy for us to forget. I’ve learned that when I have eased into a state of numbness about any given thing, it is because of a lack of exhortation. Now, exhortation is not the same as rebuke. Exhortation is actually encouraging or cheering someone on. This comes in different forms — the most important being the Word of God. We can also be exhorted by truth through sermons, books, music, friends, or even yourself!
Sin creeps in so subtly and silently. If we are not constantly surrounding ourselves with exhortation, it will slowly begin poisoning our thinking and changing our mindsets. It is like a cancer; it starts small — so small it’s not even noticeable. Then, all too often, we find it when it has already done great damage and is killing us. You don’t go to bed at night a strong, devoted Christian and wake up the next morning to toss it all out the window and live a life of immorality. It may seem that way sometimes when someone we know falls away, but truth be told, there were probably many little areas of compromise that were allowed to remain and grow until it became something that completely overtook them.
We must choose to put ourselves in the path of constant, continual encouragement in the truth. We can’t sit passively waiting for it to come our way. It can be very humbling to hear the same things — or admit that we need to hear the same things — over and over again. But this is what it takes to keep us on the straight and narrow path. It keeps us in close communion with our Lord, and strengthens us as a body of believers.
I heard someone talking recently about the fact that in this day and age (and especially in our American culture) there is such a push to become independent. It is just a given – the older you get, the more independent you should be. The need for others is scoffed at and looked upon as weakness. But in Christianity it is just the other way around. The more mature you are in your walk with Christ, the more dependent you will be on Him. You grow in humility, and see your need to be surrounded by other Christian brothers and sisters who will spur you on toward greater godliness and commitment to Jesus. Your heart will grow softer and softer toward the Lord, and gain greater and greater fortification against the deceitfulness of sin. So today, surround yourself with powerful, life-giving truth, and fix your gaze upon Jesus Christ, the One who grows, upholds, and sustains our faith!