We now look at the final chapter of this marvellous letter to the Hebrew believers. There are many important things for the author to share with this Messianic community.
Our author does not think we should be only heavenly minded and of no earthly use. On the contrary, the response of those who believe, who enter Jesus’ rest, who draw near into his presence, is to love the brothers and sisters, practice hospitality, care for those in prison and who suffer, maintain sexual purity, and honour marriage.
So, we read these words from the start of chapter 13 verses 1-4.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
We see here once again the imperative of maintaining a shared experience together in Christ : keep on loving the brothers and sisters— the original has maintain brotherly love and emphasizes the need for keeping up love for one another, as though they were literally siblings. In our precious fellowships we must go out of our way to express love for one another. Tokenism will not do. Love must be genuine. The first Christians drew this famous response from outsiders: Look how these Christians love one another. Here is the very stamp, the essence of Christ’s community, God’s household, his family. This family certainly, definitely, transcends the earthly. “Focus on the family”? Well here is the true family and the true focus asked of us by God our Father.
They must also practise such caring for those of their number in prison or being mistreated, just as if they were suffering themselves! Sublime solidarity— this reminds us of Jesus’ suffering at the hands of those who, like Saul, persecuted his (Jesus’) brothers and sisters : Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (see Acts 9:4-5)
Like the other New Testament writers, he stresses the sanctity of marriage and the need for sexual purity. Marriage must be honoured among God’s people. Today, godly marriage is under assault and everywhere in our society we see sexual purity being undermined and compromised. The challenge lies before us: to demonstrate to a lost society how brilliant is God’s matchless design in the marriage of a man and a woman. How joyous it is! How comfortable it is! How much pleasure it yields! How heavenly! How fortunate we are who enjoy marriage! It is yet another of His wonderful ideas.
By contrast, how dismal is its reverse. How destructive is adultery. How pathetic is unbridled lust. How full of darkness is unlove. How transient is infatuation. How selfish and hellish is manipulation and dominance. How lonely is the unloved and neglected and unpraised.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” [Deut. 31:6] So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” [Psalm 118:6,7]
Contentment with what they have, will surely arise from the nature of God who is their helper, who will never forsake them, and who is also their provider. They are his own people, the sheep of his pasture. So there is no need to love money. No need to maintain a constant lifestyle of having to acquire things.
As we read these counter-cultural admonitions are we hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit? Are we applying these things in our hearts? Caring for one another in the Body of Christ will give plenty of opportunity for generosity and hilarious giving, abandoning all stinginess and an independent spirit. There is no better way to keep yourself from the love of money than giving it away. The giver gains ever so much, as much, or even more, as the receiver! It is a liberating experience.
Join this group of happy people we read of here! Make haste to be one of those whose God is not money, not sex, not power, but whose God is the Lord in the face of Jesus the Messiah. Who actually know their God and relate to him through the offering of Jesus he made while here on earth. And who continues to bear our burdens, hear our cries and supply his Spirit upon us and in us.