Nobody wakes up one morning to discover they no longer trust in Christ. Departure from the Way happens through a slow process of compromise and justification. A well-meaning Christ follower might tell a white lie “for the greater good” and then find that she has to tell several more to cover the first one. In time, she will lose the ability to discern any difference between the greater good and her own self-interest. Or perhaps another believer might excuse exorbitant time and money spent on childish hobbies as a means to “recharge” only to find himself living for leisure. Those believers will stop finding solace in the company of God’s people. They won’t want to worship. Eventually, they’ll downgrade their faith from essential to optional and from optional to distasteful.
The writers of the New Testament called this process, “hardening.”
In Hebrews 3:12-14 we read this admonition:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 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. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.. (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV)
Sin deconverts believing hearts through a slow, insidious process. It’s scary to think that people who’ve at one time been devoted and fruitful followers can become hardened against the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t have to happen.
Because hardening happens slowly, we only need to maintain a daily habit of exhortation to stop it before it starts. We don’t use the word, “exhortation,” much, so let me give you a image of what it means. It’s like what boxing coaches do in the corner between rounds. It’s a mix of encouragement, rebuke, instruction, and warning. That’s exhortation. That’s what we must give to our brothers and sisters if we’d like to see fewer of them throw in the towel in this fight against sin.
In our hyperconnected era, there’s no reason why we can’t pass along some exhortation every day. I’m going to post daily, short words of encouragement, conviction, instruction to exhort any I can and hopefully, equip some with a word to pass along.