In the early morning hours, I navigate through the passages of my daily dose of God’s Word through an app on my phone. After a few passages, there is a blank page before me to “talk it over” where I record any thoughts or reactions and click “submit.” Then it happens. Often the thoughts of a friend I’m reading along with show up on the page too! A rush of joy floods in as I realize that without coordinating it, we have both been reading the same passages at nearly the same time! Even through an app, we have gathered around God’s Word in a way that provides both encouragement and accountability. But the joy only increases as the conversations about the passages we read carry over when we see each other in worship on Sunday or in our Home Group or Bible Study during the week.

An Unexpected Source of Community

I did not anticipate growth in my sense of community when I set out to read the Bible cover to cover. Where I would have given up, trudging through the portions of the reading plan that felt a little like my own personal wilderness, I have been encouraged by fellow believers to keep showing up and to continue building this daily habit. In doing so, they have pushed me forward in my faith.

Encouragement is a key aspect to our relationships with one another in the church, but many Bible verses about encouragement have become so cliche they sometimes lose their significance when we see them on a t-shirt, coffee mug, or inspirational poster. One such verse is that from Hebrews:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25).

At its core, this verse is an exhortation for believers to gather together, especially for worship on the Lord’s Day. The author of Hebrews wrote to a group of believers being persecuted for their faith. It was costly for them to worship together. To do so meant risking their livelihoods, sometimes even their lives. The author not only calls them to face that risk and meet together, but as they do so, to encourage one another in the faith. But what makes this time together so encouraging? Was the author telling them to meet and encourage one another in order to puff each other up? Is it for them to exchange positive affirmations with one another like, “You’ve got this!” or “You’ve just got to have more faith” or “Everything is going to be okay?” We need to look at what these verses are rooted in to understand its full meaning and its charge to the early church and to us as well.

The Source of True Encouragement

In the verses just before this, the author of Hebrews draws our attention back to the tie that binds us all together and unites us as a body to begin with. In Hebrews 10:1-8, we are reminded of the bloody work of atonement where year after year bulls and goats were sacrificed for the remission of sins. Until Jesus. “… ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (vv.9-10). Jesus came as the final and perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 10:11-18 then explains why Christ is a better sacrifice. Then in verses 19-24 we see the benefits of that sacrifice when the author charges us to “draw near with a full assurance of faith” with clean hearts, and bodies washed with pure water, “holding fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” And how do we do that? By stirring one another up to love and good works, meeting together for worship, and encouraging one another in the gospel. In the Reformed faith, we call this Covenant Family.

Jesus Christ is the foundation, the very core of the family. He binds us together through His sacrifice at the cross. He unites us as brothers and sisters so that we have one another to bear each other’s burdens and point one another back to Christ and His work for us. We all come to God’s family the same way: by grace through faith. We are all needy sinners in need of a Savior. We are all orphans in need of a Father. We bring nothing with us. We can’t save ourselves, muscle our way into the family, or buy our way to the table. We must fully depend on grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Because we all share the same Father, we also share the same encouragement with one another. Even more, because of Christ sacrifice, we get to show up for one another.

Prioritizing Gathering Up and Encouraging

Unfortunately, it can be quite easy for us to neglect meeting together. Sunday brunch with an important client, a sports game our kids have worked hard toward all season, a long week that ends with a desire to stay nestled up in a warm bed. These are all tempting reasons to miss out on this important connection of corporate worship. But there are others that penetrate much deeper than our surface level desires for comfort or success. We live in a fallen and broken world, and we all experience the impact of it. We are all tempted to sin. We all suffer. Experiencing these trials and heartaches and sorrows can cause us to withdraw from meeting together. Will others understand what we are experiencing? Will our burdens be too much for them? Whether you find yourself in the low valleys of life or a mountain top season of success, we are all drawn to self-sufficiency. We pull up our boot straps, go it alone, and neglect meeting together.

We must remember our charge! We can’t encourage one another in the gospel if we neglect meeting together. We can’t build each other up to love and good works from a distance. We can’t help one another if we don’t share our lives with one another. But when we meet together and hear the Word preached, when we join our voices together in worship, and when we study the Scripture together, we are strengthened and encouraged. We then speak the truth in love to one another. We bear each other’s burdens. And we are equipped to share the good news of the gospel to the world around us.

Jesus Christ paid the ransom for our sin; He was the spotless lamb that brought us peace. He is the better sacrifice and because of His great love for us, we can love and encourage one another. We can spur one another on to good works. We can remind one another of the truth of the gospel. Sisters, let us not neglect to gather together.

Photo by Daniel Tseng on Unsplash

Marybeth McGee

Marybeth is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan but moved to Georgia after meeting her husband, Brian. A graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in Family Studies, Marybeth currently works for the State of Georgia in the Department of Early Care and Learning. After nearly a decade of infertility the Lord blessed Marybeth and Brian with three boys through foster care adoption. In 2020 she began The At What Cost Blog and YouTube channel to document the family’s journey into a more simplified lifestyle. What began as more of a hobby has grown to over 25,000 subscribers who tune in to discover how even the most mundane of tasks in our homes can reflect the sanctifying work God is doing in our hearts. Marybeth serves on the Women’s Ministry team at her church, Redeemer Presbyterian, where she also leads women’s Bible study. She enjoys reading, crafting, and camping with her family and their German Shorthaired Pointer, Gunner. You can find Marybeth at and @theatwhatcostblog on most social media platforms.