Hebrews 13:1-6 – How to live your lives in Christ!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 27, 2013 AM
If you only had a few days to live or if you knew, you may not see certain people you cared about ever again, what advice would you leave them? In Douglas Adams’ book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” all the dolphins and whales leave earth right before it is destroyed to make room for an intergalactic interchange and off ramp. Their final message is, “So long and thanks for all the fish!” Not to worry, earth is later rebuilt by the dolphins in their Save the Humans campaign. As silly as this is, what message would you leave? Perhaps you might share how those you leave behind should live their lives in Christ.
The author of Hebrews is closing his sermon to his fellow Jewish believers. He is concerned for their future and rightly so. He had spoken to them in general terms before but now he gets down to the nitty-gritty and very specific moral obligations they are to be mindful of doing. It seems as if he feels his time is limited and he has to get in as much advice as he possibly can in a short while. He desperately wants to warn them in how to live their lives in Christ. Let’s discover what he says…
We can forget that we have obligations in our relationship with the Lord. We discover that there is a reason the Lord reminds us that “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15 NIV) The author of Hebrews understood this and this is why he writes a set of…
I. Moral obligations in living for the Lord! (Vv. 1-4)
1. When Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV) he was referring to the godly union all Christians are to share with one another and not the world in general. I know this to be true because Jesus continued by stating, “By this all men will know that YOU are MY disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV) The author of Hebrews echoes the same message and tells them to, “Keep on loving each other as brothers.” No matter what occurred this moral obligation was to continue between believers. How sad in our day when fellow Christians do not treat each other as instructed. Christians are commanded to “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” and to therefore “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 NIV) However, few do! And, just as Abraham did, we are not to “forget to entertain strangers.” He knew that “by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it!” I believe this means fellow believers as well as heavenly heralds. We are God’s messengers and we often forget to encourage and help one another! We are also encouraged to “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” The idea here concerns those who have been bound up and imprisoned by war, drugs, alcohol, addictions, slavery, crimes, or religious persecutions. The word used includes spiritual or physical bonds, shackles, and chains. So it includes those caught in sin’s bondage. Jesus proclaimed, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” However, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34, 36 NIV) Jesus came “to preach good news to the poor.” He was sent “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 NIV) Lastly, Hebrews turns to the core of a godly society. He relates, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” The wording for “sexually immoral” is pornos, where we get pornography. Christians are not to be sucked into the ungodliness of the world’s standard of what constitutes love. Paul warned, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NIV) Emotional love is not the basis for marriage, God’s standard is and it is therefore between one man and one woman. This is why Paul warned, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:26-27 NIV) These are our moral obligations in living for the Lord!
EXAMPLE: Do you have a standard in life? A godly flag you have raised or a moral compass line that you will not cross no matter how you feel, what occurs, or how others feel about you? Or do the words “I deserve this,” “I want this,” “I need this,” or “I feel this” creep into your vocabulary more often than not. Do you value what the world thinks about you more than what the One who suffered and died for you does? How can we be the salt and light or the leaven in an ungodly world when we cannot be distinguished from the world and its momentary feel good philosophies? The author of Hebrews wanted to leave some lasting advice for his listeners. Are you listening to what he taught concerning our moral obligations in living for the Lord?
We can easily forget that there are specific actions that are required on our part in order to maintain our relationship with Christ. There is a reason why Jesus told his disciples, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13 NIV) Therefore, Hebrews teaches it is important in…
II. Knowing one’s priority in living for the Lord! (Vv. 5-6)
1. One would think that this should be included in the above list of moral obligations, and possibly, it could. However, we discover that God saw personal stewardship as an important priority in one’s life. In fact, God sees it as a matter of one’s continued worship of Him! This is why the Psalmist reminded us, “For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones.” (Psalm 37:28 NIV) Faithfulness for God is a matter of personal stewardship of one’s time, talent, and treasure. How we spend our money, how we spend our time, and how we use our talents, says a lot about what we truly believe about God or not. This is why the author of Hebrews tells his listeners, “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.’” There is a reason. In Malachi the Israelites were told by God, “Return to me, and I will return to you, but you ask, ‘How are we to return?’” And he gives them the answer, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” (Malachi 3:10 NIV) God equated their faulty stewardship with “robbing” Him personally! Proverbs 3:9 reminds us to “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all” that we have! God deserts those who have left him, not that he actually spiritually does but that he cannot and will not work in the life of someone who is not totally committed to Him in all things, including their giving! I am not talking about personal perfection; it is a matter of personal priority! In our needs driven world we have forgotten that “godliness with contentment is great gain,” why, because “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” In fact, “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV) Paul “learned to be content whatever the circumstances”! (Philippians 4:11 NIV) When we have our priorities right, we can “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” When one’s priorities in life are correct, they have nothing to fear. We can declare with the Psalmist, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalms 124:8 NIV) It is a matter of knowing one’s priorities in living for the Lord!
EXAMPLE: What we often fail to realize is that when we do not give to the Lord the best of our time, talents, and treasure He views it as idolatry. We are tacitly telling the Lord, “I do not have time for you, but I have time for me.” We are telling Him that, “My talents are my own and I am not obligated to you for anything you have given me.” In fact, we are being greedy with what God has provided when we do not tithe, as we should. We are bluntly spitting on Him and declaring to the world, “I owe nothing to God!” when in fact, we owe Him everything! When we give God our leftovers, He is angered by it. Remember Malachi, God told him, “And you say, ‘what a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously, when you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’” Of course the answer was “NO.” in fact, we learn that “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord.” (Malachi 1:13-14 NIV) We are cursed cheats when our stewardship in life is skewed. This is why Hebrews reminds us, “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.’” It’s a matter of knowing one’s priority in living for the Lord!
We have learned about our 1) Moral obligations in living for the Lord! And 2) Knowing one’s priority in living for the Lord!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.