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. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
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.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 13:1-6 (NIV)
The practical implications of the love of Christ.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are three basic meanings to “the love of Christ.” One meaning refers to the love Christ has for us. A second meaning refers to the love we have for Christ. And a third meaning refers to the love of Christ as a set of practices; as a way of imitating Christ and applying his love to our relationships with others. Our passage this month deals with this third meaning: the practical implications of the love of Christ in our relationships with others. It begins with a general command: “Keep on loving each other” and then gives us specific examples of how we can do that.
The practice of the love of Christ draws believers together as a family.
We are to keep on loving each other “as brothers and sisters.” It is no secret that Jesus did not “focus on the family.” Instead, he drew his followers into a new, spiritual family of regenerated believers. Human families are temporal and end at death. But the relationships we have as brothers and sisters in Christ extend into eternity.
The practice of the love of Christ guarantees our well being.
Because believers are family, we know that when tragedy befalls us, we have a network of fellow believers to support us. This includes the possibility of persecution, homelessness and imprisonment.
The practice of the love of Christ strengthens our marriage and family.
The love of Christ has direct implications for marital relations and family. The practice of monogamy and sexual purity is stressed, not only in this passage, but throughout the New Testament.
The practice of the love of Christ brings contentment.
Because our focus is on Christ and on the body of Christ, we have the ability to keep money in perspective. We know that real fulfillment comes in meaningful relationships, not in acquiring things.
The practice of the love of Christ gives us courage and awareness of His presence.
Because we know that Jesus Christ is present with us at all times, we are fearless and cannot be daunted by the threats of mere men.
My mother and father were wonderful Christians and faithful members of their church for decades. One of the things I remember most about their participation in our church was their involvement in their Sunday evening Christian Endeavor group. They actually began in Christian Endeavor as single teens. They married and had children, together with the other members of the group. As they got older, they continued to meet faithfully each Sunday evening with the same group of people. Their Christian Endeavor group lasted for over 60 years! If there were ever a group of Christians who “kept on loving one another,” it was them. In fact, the retirement home my dad spent the last years of his life in had three members of that group in it.
Scripture teaches, and we know from experience, that the most valuable things in life are lifelong friendships. But they require faithfulness and investment of time. Are you faithfully investing in the lives of people in your church?
- Which of these commands do you have the most difficulty with?
- What precautions, if any, should we take when showing hospitality to strangers?
- What is the difference between having money and loving money?
- Which command in this passage is the most difficult for you to follow?
- How real is the presence of Christ to you on a daily basis?