You would think that it makes more sense to start with basics, and move to the more complicated issues. That’s how we typically communicate or train others: move from the simple to the complex. The author of Hebrews does not.
Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”Hebrews 13:1-5 (NASB)
After covering the supremacy of Jesus over all other competitors for our devotion, after going into great detail about the heavenly ministry of Jesus on our behalf, after listing off examples of faith from Scripture, and after pushing for endurance in the face of difficulty, we finally have the basics.
It seems that these things can’t be left out, but they aren’t part of his discussion either. What we typically leave to the end is the “punchline”, but this seems different, like it should be the basic call on how to live. It’s true that Paul doesn’t put those sorts of things right up front, but he didn’t typically leave them to the closing either (Exceptions might be: 1 Thes. and 1 Tim.).
But, what if this is the punchline? What if the writer has been leading here all along, and all that has been said, was said to support these words? Honestly, I don’t think that’s true. A house isn’t finished until the trim and painting is done, and I believe that’s what we have here.
The argument may be “complete” in a sense, in that all the pieces and parts are there, and laid out in order with the proper structure. But the life of a disciple of Jesus is not intuitive. These things cannot be left unsaid. They are not part of the argument supporting the supremacy of Jesus. But anyone believing the supremacy of Jesus needs to live according to these basics.
So, here they are in bullet form:
- Love your fellow disciples
- Welcome those you don’t know
- Identify with the persecuted
- Honor pure marriage
- Be responsible with money, not motivated by it
They’re pretty simple and straight forward. And they’re hard. They don’t allow us to be selfish, self-motivated, or self-centered. They don’t allow us to be comfortable.
They do allow us to be loving, they allow us to be at peace with our Savior. This sort of behavior is external evidence of inner holiness. And these things are things with which I struggle.
What I have discovered is that I have to persevere in the struggle, and not be content with my failures in any one of them. It’s not okay that I’m selfish. It’s not okay that I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it however I want to do it. I live for my King, and at His pleasure. I am not my own, and I am not home yet. Neither are you.
So, what’s your view through this knothole this morning?
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation