Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. - Hebrews 3:12-13
Beware! There’s a word that should get our attention. Right?
The Greek word here (blepō) means “to see with discernment and have the power of understanding.” And we are warned that the alternative to having a discerning heart is to have an "evil heart." The word evil is (ponēros) which indicates degeneracy from original virtue or health – something that has become corrupted or sick. This is why, when Kind David was confronted with the ugliness of his sin, he cried out “create in me a clean heart.” I remember, years ago, I was driving to a jobsite; using the time to pray… feeling very pious. I prayed something to the effect of “Lord, you know I mess up sometimes, but You know my heart.” What I meant was “I mess up sometimes, but I have such a GOOD heart.” And the Lord spoke to me as clearly as if it had been audible… “Yes, son, I DO know your heart.” And I was instantly reminded of Jeremiah 17:9 which states “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it?” This “evil heart” will become hardened by unbelief (apistia) which means “without faith.” Hebrews 11:6 tells us “without faith it is impossible to please God.” And without faith, we will “depart from the living God.” What a warning. What a fearful and dreadful thing. So much for “follow your heart.”
And so, we are instructed to “exhort one another daily – while it is still called today.” Don’t wait for tomorrow… for tomorrow may never come. There is an urgency here… do it today! The word “exhort” is (parakaleō) – to implore with, to encourage, to strive to appease by entreaty, to beg if necessary. When we see a brother or sister turning from the truth, walking in sin, or just struggling in general; we are to encourage them when they are oppressed and lovingly correct them when they stray from the truth. I see here a picture of people who do not “judge” one another, but love one another deeply. We ARE indeed our brother’s keeper. We aren’t called to “stay in our own lane” and “mind our own business.” We are called to “exhort” one another… daily. There is a closeness and an intimacy of fellowship. And there is a deep love, a sacrificial love, and a grace extended and received. Oh, how this is lacking in the church. No wonder so many of us have been “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” When we, from a distance, judge one another rather than moving in closer to show grace to one another; we fall prey to the darts of the evil one. We are living in a time of such extreme isolation. We build our little castles around ourselves and don’t know we are constructing our own prisons. We live in a time of fear, strife, and casting accusations at one another. But we, dear brothers and sisters, are to be known by our love for one another. Love doesn’t look the other way when we see someone falling into sin. And love doesn’t take offence when someone else loves us enough to correct us.
Do you remember? I can hear it ever so faintly in the distance… as though we heard it in a dream somewhere… the words of our Savior… “This is my commandment, that you LOVE one another.” You cannot love God whom you cannot see if you do not love your brother who you can see… it is an impossibility.
Let us “exhort” one another… while it is still called today.