Summary: We are called to love one another
Hebrews 13 - 11/4/12
Turn with me this morning to Hebrews chapter 13. We are closing out this book that we have spotlighted over the last couple months. We saw in Hebrews, this book written to Jewish Christians tempted to go back to the OT sacrificial system with all its laws and rules and regulations, that Jesus is better than OT prophets, angels, Moses, Aaron or any other high priest, even better than Abraham, the father of the Jews. Jesus provides us salvation and direct access to God Almighty, and as a result we are given direct access to God and are invited to approach God’s throne to find grace to help in time of need. We saw in chapter 10 we are called to live boldly, to draw near to God, to hold on to hope, to spur one another on, and to encourage one another by meeting together. In chapter 11 we have examples of many, many OT saints who lived their lives of faith out to completion, giving us an example to follow. In chapter 12, we are reminded that these individuals function now as witnesses in heaven, cheering US on to win the race we are in. We win that spiritual race as we get rid of the sin and baggage that weighs us down, as we don’t give up but continue to persevere, and as we look to Jesus and seek to be like Him. And we learn that discipline is a good thing, given by God not to punish us, but to help us succeed, to help us WIN the race!
We come today to the end of chapter 12 and then go on to chapter 13, the last chapter, and we see some summary ideas that wrap up this letter. But they are truths that will transform our lives if we put them into practice. Because these summary statements, different than much of the rest of the book, have more to do with how we relate to one another as opposed to understanding the truths about salvation. Before we look at the scripture, Let’s PRAY!
In 12:14 we are reminded to
• live in peace - Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord. See to it that no-one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. What so often happens is that when something comes up - an area of conflict between us and another - we lose all semblance of peace. First it starts out as irritation, a disagreement that festers, then before you know it, that anger has turned to bitterness, and everyone who comes around you gets influenced by your negativity and critical spirit. When we allow bitterness to develop in our hearts, it doesn’t just hurt us, many people are injured in the process.
And notice this key idea here: it you have bitterness - if you are allowing a bitter root to grow up in your heart - then you have missed the grace of God. Why does it say that? Because when an issue of contention comes up between you and someone else, our first response is to magnify the offence, defend ourselves, prove the other person wrong, and enter into armed warfare to prove that WE are the one in the right. At least, that is our human response, that is what our sin nature tells us we should do.
But as Christians, there should be another response that comes - and that is the grace of God at work in our hearts. When we think about an issue of contention, 1 Peter 5 tells us what grace does for us: All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. What is that saying? That we should choose to BE HUMBLE! What is humility? Philippians 2:14 tells us, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. So humility is considering others better than you. It is looking at the conflict to see how THEY can come out as winners! It’s considering what it is that is of interest to the other person. Whenever we have a conflict or disagreement, we want to see how we can WIN - but humility says, how can THEY WIN! And to have that type of attitude, we definitely need to grace of God at work in our lives.