A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 44: PRACTICAL LOVE FOR THE BRETHREN
Hebrews 13: 1 - 3
The first part of the Epistle deals with Christian doctrine while the last chapters emphasize practical responsibilities of the Christians. This is the normal pattern in the Epistles in the New Testament: first the doctrine, then duty; first the precept, then the practice. True saving faith is always revealed by practical Christian living. Doctrine is the foundation on which any practical act must be based. Doctrine alone without the accompanying Christian living makes us knowledgeable but nominal, hypocritical so-called Christians. On the other hand, practising a form of righteousness and so-called Christian living without sound, scriptural doctrine makes us ignorant, deceived, sentimental, so-called Christians. The root of biblical doctrine must bear the fruit of practical holiness if our Christianity is to be acceptable to God.
The first three verses of this thirteenth chapter speaks about love. Is this not the logical conclusion of our covenant relationship emphasized in this epistle? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God... Thou shalt love thy neighbour. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22: 37-40). And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (1 John 4: 21). This love is based on sound biblical doctrine, compatible with holiness without which no man shall see the Lord , flowing out from a personal relationship to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
SUSTAINED LOVE FOR SAINTS
Hebrews 13: 1; 6: 10; 1 Thessalonians 4: 9,10; 1 Peter 1: 22, 23; 1 John 3: 14-18; John 13: 34, 35; Romans 12: 9, 10; Ephesians 5: 1, 2.
Let brotherly love continue. These brethren to whom we are to show love are also called saints in Hebrews 6: 10 and other places in the New Testament (Romans 12: 13; 1 Corinthians 16: 1; 2 Corinthians 9: 1; Ephesians 1: 15; Colossians 1: 4; 1 Timothy 5: 10; Philemon 7). The believers are called saints because Godís holiness is supposed to be seen in their lives. Our love must be continually shown to these children of God. Such brotherly love already existed among the Hebrew Christian (Hebrews 6: 10) here the exhortation is that the love - practical love, practical help and deeds of kindness - should continue. To the Thessalonians who had been taught of God to love one another, Paul wrote that they should increase more and more in that love. (1 Thessalonians 4: 9, 10).
If brotherly love is to continue, we must exhort one another daily, provoke one another unto good works, pursue peace and seek to dwell together in peace and harmony. We must desire and constantly seek othersí best and highest interests. Brotherly love is like a tender plant which requires much attention, it may easily be withered and destroyed by the cold, dry air of unkindness.
If brotherly love is to continue, self must be denied. Where self is dominant, love is dormant; Love cannot flourish where pride, idle gossip, suspicion reign. Once we give any place to the devil, who accuses the brethren day and night, brotherly love cannot continue. We need Godís grace and divine help for love to continue in our midst. It is natural to love those who are kind and generous to us; it is supernatural to love those who are firm and faithful in rebuking us. Let brotherly love continue.
SHARING IN LOVE WITH STRANGERS
Hebrews 13: 2; Galatians 6: 10; Deuteronomy 10: 17-19; 1 Samuel 30: 11-15; Luke 10: 30-37; Genesis 18: 2-8, 16, 17, 22; 19: 1-3, 12, 15; Matthew 25: 31-40.
A stranger, by definition, is someone we do not know personally. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers (Hebrew 13: 2). Strangers, here, can refer to unbelievers as well as believers. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6: 10). All men includes brethren, strangers, even our enemies. There are many reasonable ways in which we can help, do good to, provide for, or meet the need of strangers. We should allow the LORD to direct our paths and not lean unto our own understanding alone when we are considering what to do to some strangers (Proverbs 3: 5-7). It is easy to be deceived when helping a stranger and sometimes some strangers may try to take advantage of our willingness to help them. Yet we must not turn our backs on everyone who needs our help. If we are prayerful and attentive to the Lord, He will guide us when we are deciding on how best to help a stranger. Helping a stranger in the way God leads can have far-reaching effects and impact in his life and in our own lives too. Helping a strange character or someone with strange doctrine, is a different thing. We must not help a stranger in a way that destroys our family, or our business. We cannot give any assistance to a stranger in a way that could ruin the work of God (Hosea 7: 9; Lamentation 5: 2; Proverbs 27: 12, 13; John 10: 5; Numbers 18: 4).
SYMPATHY AND LOVE FOR SUFFERERS
Hebrews 13: 3; 10: 34; Jeremiah 38: 7-13; Galatians 6: 2; Acts 16: 23, 24, 32-34; 1 Corinthians 12: 26; Romans 12: 15; 1 Peter 3: 8; Matthew 7: 12; 25: 35, 36, 39, 40.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them. The immediate reference is to those who had been deprived of their liberty for Christís sake, who had been cast into prison. We should remember them, think about them, feel for them, have compassion on them, pray and intercede for them, asking God to overrule and make all things work for their good. We can also visit and provide for their families. If we are not able to do much for them ourselves, we can speak of their needs to brethren who have the means to supply those needs.
RememberÖ them which suffer adversity as being yourselves also in the body. It is easier to appreciate hunger, loneliness or persecution when we have been hungry, lonely or persecuted. Identifying with those who suffer, we should be more sensitive, helpful, compassionate and caring. Bear ye one anotherís burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6: 2).
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