Summary: Running our race means brotherly love, entertaining strangers, and remembering our brothers and sisters suffering persecution.
This all goes back to the race set before us in 12:1. How do we run our race? What does that mean besides not giving up?
Let brotherly love continue.
First, let’s talk about the meaning of brotherly love: the Greek word is φιλαδελφία (philadelphia). It comes from two combined words meaning “to be a friend or friendly” and “brother.” That’s why our modern city of Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love.
Why is it important? There are several reasons:
It’s for our benefit:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).
It’s a testimony to the world:
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
It’s a result and evidence of our cleansing:
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22).
What does it look like?
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
Second, see that the command is to let it “continue.” This Greek word means to stand fast (as in battle) or to stay. It means to be permanent; in one case it means to wait for an attack without flinching. In other places where this is translated it uses words like “abide, remain, wait, or continue.” A translation might say, “Love each other as brothers and never stop.”
2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I read this is, “Does this mean we have to pick up hitchhikers?” To entertain strangers doesn’t mean we’re reckless about helping people—it means we show hospitality to people we don’t know. There are a couple stories in the Old Testament:
“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3And said, My LORD, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat” (Genesis 18:1-8).
“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat” (Genesis 19:1-3).