Tuesday, for me, was a day of check-ups and check-ins. First, I spent time with my new doctor at my annual physical. Then, I spent time with my youngest child’s teachers at a series of parent-teacher conferences. Overall, all the conversations were satisfactory: I am doing well physically and Joshua is doing very well academically. With these appointments now concluded, we were both encouraged and challenged – encouraged to keep up the good work and build on successes, challenged to try new things and improve areas of weakness. It is good to hear, by medical and educational professionals, that one’s hard work is bearing fruit.
What would happen if we, as followers of Christ, sat before the Great Physician for an annual examination? What would happen if we, as the people of God, met with the Good Teacher for a routine conference? What would happen if we regularly met with the Almighty to find encouragement and challenge in our spiritual life? What would the One who knows all things (the Almighty knows our moves as well as our motives) direct us to maintain, for good health, or demand us to refrain from, like bad habits, to improve our health? What if we did for our soul what we do for our bodies and our minds?
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
Paul’s admonition – for us to consider how we may provoke one another – is worthy of reflection. Contained in these verses are some clues as to what he had in mind: we ought to be meeting together and we ought to be encouraging one another. Typically, I think about ‘meeting together’ as a reference to Sunday morning worship, but it merely means “gathering up with others’, whether it be in a formal service of in an informal assembly in the aisle of the grocery store. We ought to be engaging in intentional interactions with one another. We ought to be checking in with those God has surrounded us with.
And when we engage in these intentional interactions, we ought to have as a priority to encouragement of one another. The biblical term ‘encouragement’ is picturesque, a compound word in the original language denoting ‘one being called alongside’. God has brought us, with all our strengths and weaknesses, into relationship with others who are equally strong in some areas and scarred in others. We then rub shoulders with one another, offering words of guidance and expressions of hope, again in formal and informal settings. We ought to be checking up with those God has surrounded us with.
Check-ups and check-ins are inevitable. Just like the annual physical or the performance evaluation or the dental cleaning or the parent-teacher conference, we are blessed when we routinely examine our health and well-being. Our soul ought to be no exception.