The writer of Hebrews is beginning to draw his book to a close. As he does so, he lays down a series of exhortations rapid fire, not spending too much time on anyone of them, but simply calling people to embrace the common ethical teachings that all believers hold since we have received them from our Lord. In the first 4 verses we are called to:
- Love one another. Christians are to be a group of people who are in strong relationship with each other. No lone ranger hermits living in isolation from the body of Christ.
- Show hospitality to strangers. This is another form of loving people, this time people who are outside the Church. The comment about entertaining angels is an interesting one. We never know when God will send a “stranger” to us as a test to see how well we will live out what the Lord has taught us.
- Help care for prisoners. To get thrown in jail back in that day was quite a different experience than it is today. People were not very well cared for, and outside help was often needed for medical needs and basic food and drink. People were often thrown in jail, not because they had committed a crime, but because they were Christians. The Lord wants us to help care for the mistreated today.
- Honoring the truth about marriage. The dignity of God’s plan for marriage must be upheld by all believers. It is instructive that the writer of Hebrews even has to mention this here, but evidently they, too, were not being very faithful to their marriage vows. This is a very interesting challenge for us today, as we live in a period of time when marriage is being redefined to suit the passions of people. One man and one woman living in faithfulness to each other has always been God’s plan and will. To depart from this brings God’s judgment.
Contrary to what we may have heard, Christianity is not about empowering me to live the life I want to live. Rather, it is about changing me so that I will enter into the life that God has prepared for me to live. These exhortations in Hebrews 13 give us good understanding so we can know what kind of life we are to live.