This is what God gave me today in his word:
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:1-5)
Pretty simple instructions. The Writer is reminding them of what they (and we) should do. Namely:
- Have brotherly love.
- Be hospitable.
- Pray for those in prison/mistreated.
- Don’t defile marriage.
He adds the following a little later in the chapter:
- Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings.
- Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. – The, “him” the author is talking about is Jesus, we can see this from the verses directly behind (vs. 12-14 mainly) the one I just quoted .
- Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.
- Obey your leaders and submit to them.
So now we have eight things the apostle has told us to do. Now then, are these eight things required? i.e. Do the eight succeed the ten commandments (or something like that)?
Is it really necessary to not defile marriage? Is it really necessary to have brotherly love? …
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
Necessary for perfection? No. Necessary to have a good marriage? Yes! – The Apostle is giving commands here, yes, but we don’t need to obey them in order to be right with God. However, we will/better obey them as it would be foolish not to. Jesus made us right with God through his death and Resurrection; Who are we to make a set of unnecessary commandments? In fact, brotherly love and the rest of the four that we’ll actually talk about, all spring from Christ’s death for us! – Anyway, with that clarified let’s get started:
First, notice that the first verse of the last chapter, is an admonition to let brotherly love continue. This is because its important. God loved us, we should love his children (and those who we hope will soon be his children). In our case The Apostle doesn’t actually strictly tell us to, “love,” but to have a brotherly love for one another.
The only difference between the two being that one is limitless (Jesus’ love for us) while the other is limited (our love for each other). Every Christian should love every other Christian of course, it’s just I’ve yet to meet someone willing to give up their only son to be crucified in someone else’s place (which is true, “love”). – Loving someone with a brotherly love is where you offer to pay their bill (if you have the means), it’s where you give up on your vacation in order to help someone in need. In general, it’s loving, just within our human ability.
Second, he mentions being hospitable. This is also very important, though not everyone is actually gifted with the ability to be hospitable (There’s a hotel right across the street!). None the less, everyone should… Make an effort.
Third, pray for those in prison and who are mistreated. Pretty obvious really, though I don’t currently know any countries that actually ban Christianity, I can tell you it’s not accepted with open-arms in China or in the upper-class of India.
Fourth, don’t defile marriage. Or, if you already have, seek biblical counsel.
The point, in general, is that these four things (the other five aren’t actually found in the passage we studied) are important enough for the writer to save until last: Brotherly love, hospitality, prayer for those mistreated and in prison for Christ, and the reminder not to defile marriage: four things that will help keep a family going, possibly a church too. Though no family or church could ever truly succeed without knowing about the Gospel and making it the focus.
You are Loved!