The other day I went running with a friend. We were able to keep a pace that surprised both of us; me because it was one of my fastest paces and I was just getting back into running, and him because it was his first run after a two month break. After we had finished and were cooling down, he commented that one of the reasons we did it so fast was because whenever one of us would feel tired and want to stop, he saw the other still running which pushed him to keep going. As I've thought about that comment, I've come to the conclusion that often our Christian walk is like that.
We are tempted to quit living for God or to compromise in some area of our life, but then we're talking with a friend or we're observing their life and we're pushed to keep going. They may even be struggling with an issue similar to the one that we are. But as we live and interact with each other we encourage each other to continue pursuing God. Scripture itself even plays this role, either through a friend sharing what they've been studying or through our own personal study.
This is the principle that Paul is talking about at the beginning of Romans 15 in verses 1-7. As we live our lives with each other and share with each other what God is teaching us, we can encourage each other to continue living to honor and glorify him. It is also there in Hebrews 12:1-3 where the writer is using the examples of faithful men and women in the Bible to encourage his readers to pursue God whole heartedly. And now we have an even greater cloud of witnesses encouraging us on, including even those who are still alive.
So, a challenge for all of us is are we seeking God and studying his word so that we can encourage others? And do we have friends around us who are seeking God and will be an encouragement to us? No matter what stage of life we are in, or our maturity as a Christian, we need others who can encourage us, and we can be an encouragement to others. It is through God's word in our lives, both through our personal study and the encouragement of our friends, that we grow in our relationship with God.