Tending to the Vertical and the Horizontal: A Study of Hebrews 10:23-25

Occasionally, a Scripture verse or passage will hit me over the head with the force of a baseball bat. I experienced such today as I set out to mull over Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (NASB). However, it wasn’t this verse that gave me a concussion; rather, it was the following verse:

“… and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NASB).

The author of Hebrews is writing most likely to Jewish Christians who, under much oppression, were tempted to turn from Christ and return to their pagan ways. His advice translates well to modern Christians who are tempted to adhere to the ways of the world and live selfish lives. Consider, how different the Church would look of we all followed the directions found in this verse. How would things change if we all actually took the time to consider the practical ways we could encourage and love one another? This verse doesn’t suggest we should simply love one another when the opportunity presents itself – it suggests we should be contemplating carefully how we can show love to one another! This changes everything! We should wake up in the morning mulling over our plans to intentionally love others. We should strategically love bomb people!

Dr. Thomas Constable writes that Hebrews 10:23 advises us to tend to our vertical relationship with God while verse 24 advises us to tend to our horizontal relationships with others:

“… (v.24) moves us from the vertical to the horizontal dimension of Christian living. This admonition to love one another, our social obligation, [is] necessary since some [tend] to wander from the faith” (Constable).

We’ve all known people who have strayed from the Church and stepped out of God’s will. If I’m being honest, there have been moments in my life when I didn’t tend to my faith as closely as it deserved. In these moments, it is crucial that Christians step in and take their responsibility to love one another seriously. This commitment to our “horizontal” relationships should directly flow from our vertical relationship with God.

The author of Hebrews didn’t stop there. In Hebrews 10:25 we are instructed to “not forsake our assembling together, as is the habit of some.” Tending to our Vertical and Horizontal relationships is best accomplished in the local church. Attending church faithfully and becoming invested in the local church helps keep us focused on the vertical while providing ample opportunity for the horizontal.

Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “God did not design us to ‘go it alone’ in our Christian faith … our participation in a local church not only protects our personal fellowship with the Lord, but it is a vital aspect to how He matures us and transforms us into His image.”

Let’s face it folks, if we want to be more like Christ, we need to tend to both our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with others.

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