Summary: Just how should we as Christians relate to "Others" and "Ourselves".
The first eleven chapters of Hebrews do not emphasize specific commands to Christians. It is pure doctrine and is almost entirely directed to Jews who have received the gospel but need to be affirmed in the superiority of the New Covenant.
The exhortations in chapter twelve that apply to Christians are general, encouraging them to run the race of faith with patience and to follow peace and holiness. The specific practical exhortations for Christians are found here in chapter thirteen. This layout of Hebrews fits the pattern of New Testament teaching, which is always doctrine, and then duty, position, and then practice. Chapter thirteen was not a afterthought by the author, but rather a integral part of the message. True faith demands true living.
Chapter thirteen gives us some of the essential practical ethics of Christian living that help portray the true gospel to the world, that encourage men to trust in Christ, and that bring glory to God.
Ethics have to do with standards of conduct (behavior) or moral judgment. There can be no ethics without doctrine. Doctrine is the foundation on which any practical ethic must be based. Hence the reason why the author of Hebrews took the first eleven chapters to cover the doctrine; before finishing with the ethics.
So tonight I want us to take a look at the standards of Christian’s behavior set forth in Hebrew 13.
READ Hebrews 13:1-3
I. In Relation to Others
a. Sustained Love (v. 1)
i. Love for the Brethren
1. The primary moral standard of Christianity is love, and the particular love exhorted here is love of fellow Christians.
2. Love of other Christians is vital to spiritual life.
a. Since we were given brotherly love when we were given spiritual life, we should exercise this love.
b. Our primary concern should not be to look for blessings or to ask for blessings but to use our blessings.
ii. Why Brotherly Love is Important
1. It is important for three primary reasons
a. It reveals to the world that we belong to Christ
b. It reveals our true identity to ourselves
c. It delights God
iii. Love for Strangers (v. 2)
1. Our first responsibility is to our brethren in Christ, but our responsibility does not end there.
2. Gal. 6:10
“While we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
3. To feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the imprisoned in Jesus’ name is to serve Him.
4. To turn our backs on those in need of such things is to turn our backs on Him.
b. Sympathy (v. 3)
i. Sympathy is closely related to sustained love
1. It is easier to help others when we ourselves have needed help.
2. It is easier to appreciate hunger when we have been hungry, loneliness when we have been lonely, and persecution when we have been persecuted.
3. It is not that a Christian must experience starvation or extreme loneliness or imprisonment in order to be sympathetic to those who are experiencing these things.
4. The point is that we should do our best to identify with those in need, to try to put ourselves in their places.