“We can measure success by how many people attend church services on Sunday. Or we can measure success by how many people serve God and others on Monday.”
Recently I’ve been pondering Hebrews 10:24, the verse that resonates with me as I think about the way I believe God wants to use me in his Kingdom work. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV). Whenever I sign a copy of my book, Brokenness to Beauty, I write the reference to this verse behind my signature.
At the end of the day, I want to measure the success of my life’s influence on others by how many people love and serve God and other people on Monday, and every day. Of course, I may never see that in my lifetime, but whatever I do—whether writing, speaking or any interacting with others—I want people, myself included, strengthened and challenged to do what the Scriptures teach: love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. We’re all works in progress but we should be advancing in that direction.
There are many rich truths to pull out of this one verse. I don’t want to skip over them but like an archeologist carefully dig them out and lay them on the work table for us to consider. Where to start?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV). Let’s start with a look at the meaning of the original Greek word translated love in English.
You may already know or have guessed this one. This love is the Greek word agape; the love God has demonstrated for us and for the whole world. Mounce describes it as generosity and kindly concern. Strong describes it as affection or benevolence.
Though we can define a word with other words, what does agape love look like in action?
Action is a good way of thinking about agape love because when Jesus said God loved the world, his love wasn’t just about words. God proved his love; he did something. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV, emphasis added).
God loved; God gave. This is the essence of agape love. It gives. As a result of God’s active, agape love, “we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18 NIV, emphasis added).
God showed us what his love is, what his generous, giving love is. Therefore, we should be clear that when it comes to loving God and our neighbor, words alone aren’t enough. Agape love is love in action. Agape love is a giving love, even sacrificial giving love. It is not just any action though; agape love is rooted in putting in to practice the Word and will of God.
Jesus was clear on that point when he said, “21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” He went on to explain. “22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23 NIV, emphasis added).
With Jesus’ words in mind, we could say, “Not all those who say they are Christians, come to church, or even do great exploits in Jesus’ name will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who go out and do the will of our Father in heaven: loving God and people and serving them Monday and every day.”
And in order to do the will of God, we need to know the Word of God so we can put it into practice, thus doing the will of God. Then we will love and serve God and others Monday and every day.
How could your actions this week be expressions of agape love, rooted in the Word and will of God?
First Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash
Second Photo by Claire Trafton
Third Photo Crucified with Christ
 Dr. Jim Denison, Denison’s Forum https://www.denisonforum.org/columns/cultural-commentary/560-million-lottery-winner-can-remain-anonymous/
 William D. Mounce, Interlinear for the Rest of Us (Grand Rapids: Zondervan) 2006
 James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers)