Sacrifices Pleasing to God
13 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.
Hebrews 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The letter was addressed to first-century Believers but the effects of the words still resonate. The author has made one thing clear above all of the theology and instruction – strive toward maturity. We should be growing with each passing year. We should not be the same as we were before we came to Christ. Yes, we know this is a process and as we’ve been placed in the trenches of life so much of the time, these are the things that continue to be part of the maturity process.
Jesus must be the beginning and end of our faith. This means that no matter what comes our way, how hard we feel hit we are depending on Him and not some ritual or some action. Meaning, we must be seeking the relationship with Him daily for the maturity process to continue. Rituals or habits of worship mean nothing without the feelings of wanting to change and realizing what we are doing is for purpose. It’s got to be real.
As we know and as we’ve read from even the book of Acts alone, hardship, difficulty came to the Followers of Christ. They were not exempt from this. Paul of all people had terrible things he dealt with physically and emotionally – but it was what drove him to Christ all the more. And the same is true for us – we will have many hard things we must work through in this life. God uses these things to bring the maturity He longs for us to have. He brings these things so we rely on Him all the more. Without that reliance we will crash and burn, as many have done so.
Hebrews 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. 3 Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.Hebrews 13:2-3 HCSB
This is a tough command to follow in the age that we currently live. So many people make a living off of others by pretending to be sick, homeless, and poor. Some Christians have grown cold to any kind of request from strangers because of how many times they have been scammed. Others subscribe to the theory that you should always give to others what they ask and let God handle it in the end.
Interestingly, the early church dealt with a similar issue.
“Because of the free offer of hospitality, Christians had to watch out for people just masquerading as Christians so they could leech off the generosity of God’s people. As time went on, Christian leaders taught their people how to recognize these kind of deceivers.”David Guzik
There is a balance to be found and the early church had to come up with a practical way to measure their hospitality.
“Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread… but if he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet that speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this one sin shall not be forgiven. But not everyone that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the true prophet be known.”(From The Ante-Nicean Fathers, Volume 7, page 380)
I find this so fascinating. Even the early church had to set boundaries with their hospitality to make sure they were efficiently helping those who were really in need. There is nothing wrong with being generous. However, God also allows for us to have wisdom. He encourages us to test things in order to prove that they are genuine!