Summary: The Christian life is something we do. We express our faith in how we live.
Title: How to Make Sure Your Faith Shows
Text: Hebrews 13:1-6
Thesis: The Christian life is something you do. We express our faith through how we live.
I was listening to a well known broadcasting personality going off on how we should not let anyone tell us what to think or how to live. Then in almost the same breath he said, “Now let me tell you what to do…” There is no shortage of people who want to tell us what we should think and do. And because there are so many voices out there telling us what to think and do, it is particularly important that we listen to the right voices – maybe I should add, the right voice.
God’s voice is a good voice. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, for correcting and training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17
This morning we hear the voice of God speaking to us in the words of Hebrews 13.
It is interesting how biblical writers sometimes end their letters with a list of things they want to remind their readers to think and do or to remember and practice. There is little or no explanation… they do not elaborate and explain what they mean. It is as if each comment is often repeated and clearly understood. The list in our text today seems to spell out a series of specific behaviors for Christians. It is as if the writer is saying, “Here is how Christians ought to express their faith through conduct.”
The first way Christians are to express their faith through conduct is by loving each other as family.
I. Keep on loving each other as family,
“Keep on loving each other as brothers…” Hebrews 13:1
It is important that we hear clearly the words and intent of the bible writer. The writer was writing to a group of people who were not relatives. They did not share DNA or genetic traits. And yet, the writer tells them that one of the ways they express their faith is by treating each other like there were really related as family members. In other words, Christians are to see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Christians are “kin” so to speak.
Seemingly there were circumstances in the lives of those living in early Christian communities that threatened the ideal of brotherly love. Whenever people take their faith seriously there are a couple of dangers.
1. There is the desire to keep the beliefs and practices or lifestyle choices in check. The idea being then that they specified what they believed and how they lived. The danger in that is that there was a tendency to be over zealous in ferreting out heretics and a proneness to casting a critical eye on how others in church were living.
2. The second danger was that those perceived to have failed were condemned and treated harshly… recall the days of Puritan America.
What the writer is saying is that the church is not a place to be known as harsh and unsympathetic but a place where brotherly love is practiced. Church is to be a family-like place where restoration is done with humility and gentleness (Galatians 6:1-5).
A more holistic understanding of the admonition to keep on loving each other as family members love each other is to see beyond just guarding over the beliefs and activities of those who live in the family. It is more about actively practicing brotherly love for each other. That kind of love is not just about guarding against believing and doing bad, it is about actively doing good for each other.
How do people who are really related to each other or how do real brothers treat each other? And what can we learn from their example?
A few weeks ago Bonnie told me about a human interest news story see saw on CNN and suggested I check it out. It is a story from right here in the Denver metro area so you may be aware of it.
Chad Arnold needed a liver and his older brother, Ryan insisted on donating a part of his liver to his younger brother. Chad objected but Ryan insisted saying, “Well, you would do it for me, wouldn’t you?”
On August 2 Ryan Arnold died just four days after donating a portion of his liver to his brother Chad, who lives here in Denver. It is obviously devastating to the Arnold family and to the medical community at The University of Colorado Hospital.
Chad, the recipient of Ryan’s liver said after his brother’s death, “This is a story about a man who is deeply convicted by his faith and because of that, what he did for me was just sort of a normal thing that he did for people.” (http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/19/live.organ.donation/index.html)