So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Many of us have others in our lives that we have some measure of responsibility for "watching over" their lives, their work, or their general well-being. This can be because we are a parent, a supervisor, or just a good friend - yes, even good friends need a little 'watching over'. Today, we consider some very stern words that should get our attention - both as those who are "watching over" someone and as those who are "watched over" by another. The warning to take daily "precautions" to ensure that the steps we take are on course and free of things that will "trip us up" should catch our attention here. Many believers come to Christ, embracing as "much" of Christ and his teachings as they are "comfortable" with. If something causes a little discomfort, they reject it - justifying it with ideas such as, "That must not be for us today" or "That was okay for them, but it doesn't make sense in today's culture". The problem with these 'views' is that we aren't going to do a great job of keeping each other on their toes when we don't have the same 'set of game rules' we are all playing from!
Whenever we limit our understanding of God by what we allow or disallow into our belief system, we create many little opportunities for deception, compromise, and a lack of spiritual growth. It is always a good thing to take what we believe and compare it with the resources we have at our disposal - the Word of God, the Holy Spirit resident within us, and our conscience - not to mention the wisdom of a great friend who is 'tuned in' with the Lord, as well. These things work together to provide us with what we need to ensure that we are not embracing thoughts, attitudes, or perceptions that are untrue, harmful, or sinful in any manner.
Look at what we are instructed in this passage - watch YOUR step, make sure there is NO evil unbelief, keep EACH OTHER on your toes, and keep your grip on what you STARTED out with. The idea is that of continual and unyielding vigilance. It takes a lot of effort to be aware of what we are allowing to affect our beliefs - there are so many inroads for the things that affect us. I am encouraged to note that our writer did not see us as "standing alone" in this process, though. He reminds us that it is a thing that we do TOGETHER. We are placed in a body of believers in order to help us to grow up into mature believers, complete in every way. My brothers and sisters in Christ act as tools to help me grow in Christ - some skillfully directing me toward areas where I need change, others encouraging me in areas where change has already begun, and still others working on the same things I am - changing is always better when someone is along for the journey. Whenever we take ourselves out of that place of accountability, we act as impediments to our growth. We are in a place where things of this world can begin to affect us, making us susceptible to being "tripped up" by sinful desires.
The body of Christ is the local church, and by extension, your small group that you might be involved with (a group of other believers, close to you, that you have committed to study with), work teams, and even close friendships. We may not "like" everyone at church, work, or even in our neighborhood, much less appreciate that God likes and loves them!!! Yet, they are there for a purpose. God knew we could not walk out this journey alone - so he gave us each other! Sometimes, the ones within our 'circles' we have the hardest time accepting, being around, or receiving anything from are those we need to learn from the most. They serve as tools to expose some of the "rough edges" in our own character that God needs to work on. So, the next time you think you don't need that person - think again. Sometimes, we don't see the potential in those relationships - but if we look close enough, we can find it. I have had more of my own habits, faults, and sharp edges exposed by some folks I thought couldn't contribute anything into my life!
We don't walk alone - remember to consider each relationship for its ultimate worth - iron sharpens iron, thorns prick and sometimes leave behind little places of 'rawness', and two make the journey less tedious. You may find yourself with a whole lot of iron or thorns right now. If you do, it is likely because you have need of that. Just remember, there is also someone divinely placed in your life to walk alongside to make the journey less tedious, as well. You don't walk alone! Just sayin!