Summary: The series of instructions at the end of Hebrews can be summed up in this command: Keep on loving each other as brothers. Keep on loving those in need, your family, your church leaders, and the gospel of Christ.
Keep on Loving
SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 13:1-8
We’ve reached the end of the book of Hebrews. It ends with a series of final instructions. Maybe you remember getting final instructions --- the kind of thing you call out as someone drives away.
· Drive carefully!
· Don’t forget to write!
· Remember your manners.
· Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
· Look both ways before you cross the street.
· Don’t take any wooden nickels.
· Buy low, sell high.
· Keep your shiny side up and your dirty side down.
· If you get hungry … eat something.
I wasn’t really aware that I did this, but my girls tell me that when I dropped them off for school I’d usually say: Go out there and make it special. (Of course, they thought that was really “special.”)
Chapter 13 of Hebrews is filled with final instructions. This list of do’s and don’ts contains about 20 commands in 25 verses. It touches on everything from hospitality & visitation to leadership to marriage & money. But the “gist” of it all can be summed up in the first verse: 1Keep on loving each other as brothers.
Before we moved here, I worked in a rural church in Santa Fe, TX. where people tended to call each other Brother or Sister. I got used to being called “Brother Ed.” I must say that those people treated each other like kinfolk. (I shouldn’t have been surprised since most of them actually were kin to each other.) I noticed several things about their brand of “brotherly love.”
· Folks were quick to lend a hand and glad to loan things … even at a moment’s notice
· They were big huggers and kissers and they could jawbone for hours after church
· When they saw each other at the grocery store, it was like a family reunion. Everybody knew everybody, and nobody stayed a stranger for long.
That kind of homey atmosphere is hard to create in a city. People move more often. We’re busier and live further apart. But, whether city folk or country folk, our job is to love each other.
This morning we’re going to look at 4 specific ways we can keep on loving each other like brothers. If you’re looking for where to start, the writer of Hebrews suggests we start by loving strangers, prisoners, and those who are mistreated.
1. Keep on Loving those in Need Hebrews 13:2-3
2Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
We are to love strangers: In the first century, Inns were expensive and travel was dangerous. Hospitality was a precious gift to the stranger who needed a safe place to stay.
That gift is just as precious today. I remember that on several occasions Rocky said that being a Christian means you always have a family. I experienced that feeling years back when I was doing an internship in Dodge City, Ks. I will always remember the Keller Family who took me in and made me one of their own. After church on Sundays --- if no one else invited me to lunch --- I was automatically invited to dine at their house. The food was always delicious (meaning fattening…) I was a stranger in that church … but not for long.
We are to love prisoners: If you were in Prison in those days, you could starve to death unless someone brought you food to eat. And you could freeze to death unless someone provided you clothes or bedding.
Prisoners today have their physical needs met. But they are in great need of the support visitors can give. I’ve had the experience of writing to and visiting prisoners, and I’ve found prisoners are thankful for anyone who will communicate with them. Prison ministry is a growing need, and prisons are a fertile ground for the Gospel
We are also to love those who are mistreated. These may be people who have fallen on hard times. Maybe they lost a job. Maybe their family abandoned them. Maybe they are addicted or mentally ill.
I read in the paper last week about new City Ordinances that address problems of the Homeless. The article mentioned the lack of public restrooms and bed space. I remember a statistic I heard recently that was really eye opening. In all San Antonio homeless shelters combined there are about 800 beds available, but there are about 20,000 homeless people looking for shelter. Homeless people are only a part of the group we could call “mistreated.” If we look around us, there are many who could use a ministry of mercy.