Hebrews Lesson 50: Moral Conduct as God’s Children :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 13: 1-6

“Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. 4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ 6 So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'”

Over the last two weeks, we talked about serving the Lord with reverence. As I get older, I appreciate that I get to wake up every day and see my family. It is a privilege that many do not have. Each day many people see their loved ones for the last time. We live in a time when we can see the hand of God in supernatural ways all over the world in reports from missionaries, often in real-time. We live in a time when archeological discoveries continue to bolster our faith and help to give us confidence in the Bible. God has blessed us to live in a special time; many generations of Christians never got to see the resurrected nation of Israel or see the hand of God in the Six-Day War. Many Christians did not live in a time when scientific discoveries simply awed us with the power and accuracy of God.

When we are confronted with these wonderful things, a sense of awe and reverence should come over us as we see how amazing God is and the very world around us.

  • Love is the true mark of regeneration, verses 1-3

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as He was preparing them for His departure. These verses are not often mentioned when we talk about being a child of God and living as a Christian, but Jesus thought this was important enough to mention it on the very last day (John 12-19 covers about one day) that He was with the apostles before He was executed.

John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

This is our identifying mark, Godly love for each other, and in Hebrews 13, Paul is pointing this out to us as a part of true moral living as a child of God. Love is the first pre-requisite; all else is useless without Godly love. The root word here for love is ‘philidelphia,’ referring to brotherly love as we see it translated. Notice that Paul expected it to be already there: ‘let love continue.’ This a sense of deep friendship and partnership. Brothers and Sisters in the Lord working together to help and lift each other up. We supply each other’s needs and do so willingly. When we look at the first church in Acts, we see this very thing happening, chapter 4:32-36,

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power, the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

We see here that this was the common practice of the Lord’s churches and still should be. If someone amongst us has a need, WE, the Lord’s people, should be the first ones to jump in, give, help, reach out and meet the need. We are not to be stingy and hold back; we are to willingly give without expecting repayment.

  • Strangers, Angels, and Prisoners, verses 2-3

These are saved strangers; these are saved brothers and sisters in the Lord. Look at the context; this is a message to save people. Many of the Lord’s people were in transit a lot in these days of the book of Hebrews. They moved because of jobs and family, and many moved because of persecution. They went looking for safe spaces for themselves and their families. The Lord’s churches were to extend love and grace to these traveling spiritual family members. They were to show hospitality and godly kindness to people looking for a bit of peace. Some of the churches had entertained angels posing as people in need of help.

Paul also encouraged these churches to remember the prisoners. Again, once we understand the context, this is referring to prisoners for the sake of the Gospel. Paul knew about this firsthand. He had been in prison for the Gospel on numerous occasions, and in particular, when he was in Rome, he was allowed to have his friends visit him and help him as he awaited his trial before Caesar.

All around the world today, there are men and women who are imprisoned for the Gospel. Even here in North America, I just saw a video of a Pastor being arrested simply for reading Bible verses out loud during a ‘pride’ parade. There may be a time in the not-too-distant future when we will begin to be arrested and imprisoned for speaking the truth about sex, genders, and the like. Would it not be wonderful to know that our brothers and sisters in the Lord are praying for us and sending us a few treats if they can, taking care of our wives, kids and homes, if possible? What a blessing not to have to worry about those things because we know that our loving spiritual family will fill the gaps and meet their needs.

This is the biggest and most important part of the moral and spiritual growth in the Lord’s people. Brotherly love and kindness are more of a mark of spiritual maturity than any other thing you can think of, and when this is in place, all other endeavors have the right motive and thus glorify God as our Father.

Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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