If you got it, why not?
(Read Hebrews 13)
The last chapter of Hebrews contains a powerful summary of wisdom and encouragement the early Christians and contemporary Christians need. Amongst all the advise in this closing of Hebrews, the writer made a very basic statement, talk the talk and walk the walk. Christians need to not only understand the Scripture, but to let it shape their lives.
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
There were a few different words for love in the Greek language. The word used here for “loving” came from the root philia. It referred to brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of true friendship and commitment. This is the kind of love that Jesus wanted his followers to show to strangers and each other. This love demonstrated living as Christ. In the early church, it was important for traveling Christians to find open homes from other Christians. There were no church buildings at that time, church was in the home. This love helped to germinate the early church.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”
In the spring of my Junior year in high school, my friend and I travelled to the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It is known for the best surfing on the east coast. Expecting really cold water, we brought with us wetsuit boots and gloves. We pulled up to the beach our first afternoon and didn’t see any of the locals with boots or gloves on. A friendly guy with shaggy, grey hair walked up to us and introduced himself. After a few minutes, we asked him what he thought we should wear in the water. He looked at our assortment of wetsuit gear and smiled. He said, “if you got it, why not.” I have always remembered that. In my mind, it meant two things, go with what you have, and be content with it.
Hebrews continued with the explanation of how we should walk the walk in our lives in regards to marriage and fidelity.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,”
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
God honors and blesses marriage. It is an example of His love here on earth. It also reflects Christ and his love for us — the body of His church. Defiling marriage by adultery, neglect, or re-definition changes the significance of the sacrament. It goes against everything Christ wanted for us.
Probably, the most significant line in Hebrews 13 stressed the consistency and permanence of Jesus.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.”
This brings us back to walking the walk. There were no surprises in Jesus’ teaching. His message was consistent from his early sermons in the temple to his sermons on the Mount or Olivet. He asked for consistent love. He asked for fidelity. He asked for authenticity.
“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.”
We should not to be carried away with superficial beliefs or superstitions. The early Christians were warned in Hebrews about reverting back to Mosaic ceremonies and laws. The Old Testament laws while not superficial, were beliefs that could never be perfectly followed by us. None of us are capable of upholding all the Mosaic laws. They can only be fulfilled in Jesus.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
As Christians, it’s imperative to understand the meaning of Scripture. But, it’s not more important than living the meaning. Hebrews 13 encourages us to have our knowledge, beliefs, and actions match. The next step after knowing the truth of Jesus Chris is putting into action. We need to respect the example of Jesus Christ in our relationships, our marriage, and every aspect of our lives. We need to be content with what the providence God has allotted us. If we got it, why not?
- Do you see the importance of love, hospitality, brotherhood, empathy, honor, fidelity, and gratefulness in Hebrews 13?
- Consider society’s famous couples. Do they honor the sacrament of marriage as Jesus intended?
- Most Americans are considered ultra rich compared to the rest of the world. Most of us don’t have to worry about where we’re sleeping, what we’re going to eat, or what we’re going to wear. We have choices. Do we love these riches?
- Read Hebrews 13 again. Now consider all the love you’ve been shown in your life, hospitality you’ve been shown, empathy received, and fidelity you’re honored with. Are you grateful for these things in your life? Pray and tell God.
- Have you seen or do you know at least one married couple who demonstrate profound love? The divorce rate is disgraceful. It’s equally high amongst evangelical Christians. True love surpasses hard times, disagreements, mistakes, personal weakness, and even sin. When you observe a couple who honor their marriage with love the way Jesus commanded, you are seeing a true and Holy Sacrament of God. If you’re married, look for Christ in your spouse and honor him or her. If you’re not married, you have this example to look forward to.
- Are you satisfied with what you have? When you’re desiring something that you probably don’t need, consider if having this will make you richer? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.