27th December 2022
Read (Hebrews 13v1-6)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
As we read the Scriptures a good question to ask is "how should I respond to what I am reading?" Answering such a question may lead to you to praise as you fall before the Lord in humble adoration. But another response will see change in our lives as we respond to the glory of the Gospel by humble service.
Hebrews is almost at an end but before the Apostle puts a full-stop on his letter he urges the Hebrews to respond to what they have heard. They are to continue loving each other within the fellowship (v1). This sounds so basic that we wonder why Paul stresses it, but do we genuinely love our brothers and sisters in the Lord? As a year draws to a close isn't it time to put aside all bitterness in our hearts towards our fellow Christians? Isn't it time to forgive the grievances that we have been carrying for years? Brothers and sisters, let brotherly love continue.
The love that we show should also be extended to strangers. The Hebrews are commanded to show hospitality to those they don't know (v2). In Paul's day you couldn't search the internet to book an airbnb when you were travelling. Christians might arrive in Rome and have no family or friends and nowhere to go. In such a situation the Hebrews were to show hospitality to strangers. A Christian from Ephesus should have been able to find a warm welcome in Rome. To underline the importance of hospitality, the Apostle reminds the Hebrews of when Abraham entertained three strangers who appeared by his tent (Genesis 18). Who were these men? Two angels and THE angel of the Lord whom we believe to be an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. Brothers and sisters, open your homes to the church of Jesus Christ.
Additionally the old saying "out of sight, out of mind" wasn't to apply to the Hebrews. They were to remember their fellow Christians who found themselves in prison and those who were mistreated for their faith (v3). Perhaps we don't know any Christian who currently meets these standards but nevertheless we are to care for those who are struggling. We can send a meal, we can visit in a hospital ward, we can send flowers and we can pray. Brothers and sisters, care for one another.
Furthermore, the Hebrews were to honour marriage ensuring the marriage bed wasn't a place for adultery but a place that was esteemed and upheld (v4). The gift of physical intimacy is from the Lord and Christian spouses are to enjoy each other's bodies as an expression of their commitment and love. Therefore we are not to cheat on our wives with the woman next door and we are not to invite the milkman into our bedrooms when our husband goes to work. Brothers and sisters, honour God by honouring marriage.
Finally, the Christian is to be marked by a right relationship with money. Money is not sinful but the love of money certainly is. We are keep ourselves free from a love of money and to foster a contentment with the things we have (v5). How many of us opened endless gifts on Sunday and still headed for the sales on Monday? Brothers and sisters, use money rightly and rejoice in the things that God has blessed you with.
Some of these "responses" require more effort than others. Perhaps we excel at brotherly love but fall down at the love of money? Perhaps we have a wonderful and faithful physical relationship with our wife but trip up when it comes to hospitality? None of us are perfect but as a new year approaches may we seek the Lord in repentance, humbly asking Him to sanctify us. When midnight comes and 2022 turns to 2023 may we enter a brand new year remembering that the Lord will indeed continue to sanctify His people and grow them up in good works.
We can be confident of the work of sanctification (v5-6) for the Lord will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1v5). Indeed in the year to come may our lives be marked by the fear of the Lord rather than man. In the end humanity can't rob us of our heavenly reward. The Lord is our helper my dear brothers and sisters, therefore in the coming months respond to Him in service and praise.
Q34 What is adoption? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.