Hebrews 13:1-3 – Care for Others

child hugging a teddy bear

Read Hebrews 13:1-3

It seems the sermon has ended. Scholars have noted that this chapter seems almost like it’s written by another author. I see it as the Preacher stepping down from the pulpit and getting more relational in his conclusion, bringing up real life applications. He answers the question, “What does it look to be a Christian under the new covenant?”

First and foremost, we are encouraged to love one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus left us with a similar calling in John 15:12, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” Jesus loved us even deeper than as brothers and sisters. He gave his life for us. That’s close.

Some people today have a hard time with this instruction because of poor family dynamics. It’s hard for them to relate to what it’s like to love a sibling because they either don’t have one or the relationships have never been healthy and loving. To the Preacher’s original audience, this was a powerful example because close knit families were very central to their way of life.

Let’s think of how we can love others with this intimate trust the Preacher intends. Loving others like this gives us the assurance they have our backs, and vice versa. Being in a loving relationship sounds so much more appealing than one leading to stress, jealousy, or feeling bullied. What ideas come to mind for being more loving to those around you? I can think of three areas to focus on: (1) Serving; (2) Sharing; and (3) Giving.

Verse 2 is a verse that fits nicely with serving. “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Have you ever felt like you had been visited by an angel? I want to be so welcoming to everyone that it doesn’t matter if they are angels or not. While we have to be careful of strangers (stranger danger, you know), we are still called to be nice to them.

The Preacher specifically calls to mind those in prison. This is a great example for sharing. There are many opportunities to share our time and our testimonies with them. I’ve always been awed by people who have a passion for prison ministry and reaching those lost souls. I suppose I’m a little “jaded” having worked in an attorney’s office for so many years, having a bit of fear over those incarcerated. None of them would ever admit being guilty!

But aren’t those who have lost their way and ended up in jail the exact lost souls we are supposed to love? They need a Savior as much as we do. Jesus called us to love and the Preacher reminds us!

When we think of giving, we might immediately think of money changing hands. It doesn’t have to be like that. Not all of us have stockpiles of resources to share with other people. To care in this way, we might look to love someone who is being mistreated. What are the needs we can meet with our time or even articles we’re ready to give a second life to by donating.

The Preacher’s directions can be pretty easy if you have a compassionate heart. We see videos of animal cruelty and feel shame. We see grungy looking homeless people and look the other way. Do we feel the same shame about that? There is a lot of inequality in this world, and we need to stop looking the other way, don’t you agree?

What if we put ourselves in their place so we could feel as if it were us who were suffering? The Preacher says, “Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” I know I could do better at this one. There is so much hurt all around us. Where can you make a difference?

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowers

Let’s pray. Lord, I look to you for the words to say and the actions to take to love others more deeply. Bring to mind those areas where I can help others to know you through the kind words or deeds I can offer. Help me wrap my mind around loving strangers like brothers and sisters. Remove any fear or doubt that holds me back. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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