March 3rd, 2019
Aux. Texts: Mt 25:31-46
Call to Worship: Psalm 133
Service Orientation: Faith without works is dead (Jam 2:17-26). True faith results in love for others (Gal 5:6; 1 Thess 5:8; 2 Thess 1:3; 1Tim 1:5, 14; 1 Jn 3:10-11, 14, 17; 4:7-21).
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? — 1 John 3:17
- I’ve always considered the third part of Hebrews to be neatly outlined with what has been historically called “the three theological virtues” of faith, hope, and love. Chapter 11 presents a procession of men and women of faith worthy of emulation. Chapter 12 sets forth warnings and essential advice to help believers stand strong in hope to endure the marathon of the Christian life. Now, in chapter 13, the author examines the Christian’s life of love for God and love for others. (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 211)
- Look at the verse which immediately precedes, and remember that when this epistle was first written there were no chapter-breaks: 12:29 and 13:1 read consecutively, without any hiatus–“our God is a consuming fire: let brotherly love continue!” (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1111)
- The first three verses of Hebrews 13 set the tone of the rest of this “love” chapter. (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 212)
- Chapter 12 builds to an intensely theological crescendo with the statement that “God is a consuming fire,” which is then met by the intensely practical command that opens chapter 13–namely, to “keep on loving each other as brothers.” So now we move from fire to function–from vertical to horizontal–from love for God to love for the church.
The implication is clear: what we think about God has everything to do with our relationship to each other and with the world. For example, this logic is built into the very structure of the Ten Commandments. The first four are intensely vertical and theological, followed by six that are intensely horizontal and ethical. This is why worship is so important–because a proper grasp of God will guide our footsteps in the world. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 205)
- (v. 1) “Let [this] brotherly love continue.” The Greek verb is menetō, from monien, “to remain,” from which we get our word “monument.” Let brotherly love stand unmovable and uneroded by the weather of history. (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 240)
- (v. 1) The phrase “love of the brethren” is one word in Greek: philadelphia . The word is a compound from two other Greek words. The first is philos , referring to a disposition that is “kindly disposed, devoted.” We might call this the love of close friendship. The other word is adelphos , meaning “brother.” Together, we get the idea of close, intimate love between family members. What a wonderful way to kick off a series of commands on how to live in close, loving community with people who aren’t blood relatives but who share fellowship based on a common bond. (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 212)
- (v. 2) For starters, inns were proverbially miserable places from earliest antiquity on. In Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Dionysus asks Heracles if he can tell him which inn has the fewest fleas. Plato, in The Laws, instances an innkeeper keeping his guests hostage. And Theophrastus puts innkeeping on the level of running a brothel. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 209)
- (v. 2) In ancient times, hotels as we know them today were nonexistent, and the inns had the reputation of being unsafe. Travelers were dependent on local residents to provide lodging and offer hospitality. (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 408)
- (v. 2) Abraham did so, and Lot did so. They thought they were entertaining ordinary strangers, and they washed their feet, and prepared their food, but it turned out that they had entertained angels. Some people will never entertain angels unawares, for they never entertain anybody. May we be given to hospitality, for that should be part of the character of saints. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 445)
- (v. 2) Among the Greeks, strangers were under the special protection of Zeus, in his role as Zeus Xenios, “Zeus the patron of strangers.” On occasion, indeed, Zeus or one of the other gods was believed to have assumed the disguise of a wayfarer and brought great blessing to those who treated him hospitably, not realizing whom they were entertaining. Among the Jews Abraham was regarded as outstanding for his hospitality as for his other virtues; a true son of Abraham must be hospitable too. In the NT hospitality is incumbent on all Christians, and Christian leaders in particular are required to be hospitable (1 Tm 3:2; Ti 1:8). Christians traveling from one place to another on business would be especially appreciative of hospitality from fellow-Christians. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 370)
- (v. 2) Entertain Angels see Gn 18:1-15; 19:1-22; Jdg 6:11-23; 13:1-21
- (v. 3) Prisoners depended on relatives and friends to provide food, clothing, and other necessities. The numerous references to Paul’s experiences as a prisoner reveal that his friends came to take care of his needs (Acts 24:23; 27:3; 28:10, 16, 30; Phil 4:12; 2 Tm 1:16; 4:13, 21). Prisoners, then, had to be remembered; otherwise they suffered hunger, thirst, cold, and loneliness. (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 409)
The question to be answered is . . . Why does the writer of Hebrews take up the subject of loving others at this point?
Answer: Because true saving faith always results in love for others. If you claim to have faith, but have not love, your faith is dead.
Our writer identifies three aspects of brotherly love, and devotes the first sentences of this pastoral exhortation to stress the importance of love’s necessary continuance, its generous expression in Christian hospitality, and its practical responsibility in caring for prisoners and the afflicted. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 248)
The admonitions to extend a helping hand to the stranger, the traveler, the prisoner, and the sufferer actually are exhortations to fulfill the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lv 19:18; Mt 22:39; Mk 12:33; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Jam 2:8). (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 409)
Mistake number 1 – Is to think that you can get to heaven by good works.
Mistake number 2 – Is to think that you can get to heaven without good works. (Alistair Begg sermon Living with Significance – Part 2)
The Word for the Day is . . . Others
How are Christians to love others?:
I- We are to love Christians as family. (Heb 13:1; see also: Lv 19:18; Mt 22:39; Mk 12:33; Lk 10:27; Jn 13:34-35; 15:12; 17:20-23; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-34; Rom 8:16; 12:10; 13:9; 15:7; 1 Cor 12:12-27; Gal 5:14; 6:2, 10; Eph 1:5; 2:19; 4:1-7, 16; Phil 2:3-4; Col 3:12-14; 1 Thess 4:9; Jam 2:8; 1 Pt 1:22; 1 Jn 3:10-11, 14, 17; 4:7-21)
Jesus turns to the world and says, “I’ve got something to say to you. On the basis of my authority, I give you a right: you may judge whether or not an individual is a Christian on the basis of the love he shows to all Christians” (Jn 13:33-35). (Francis Schaeffer; The Mark of the Christian, 13)
If I fail in my love toward Christians, it does not prove I am not a Christian. What Jesus is saying, however, is that, if I do not have the love I should have toward all other Christians, the world has the right to make the judgment that I am not a Christian. (Francis Schaeffer; The Mark of the Christian, 13-14)
What do we see as we look around at fellow believers? What do we see when we look at ourselves and our attitudes and actions toward fellow believers? Is it love for him as a brother and desire to help him succeed or self-centered thoughts that cause heated competition with him? Is it brotherly concern for his needs or calloused seeking of our own good? Is it acceptance of his talents and assistance in developing them or caustic criticism of what he says and does? (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 170)
Following Jesus’ example, who did not come to be ministered to but to minister, we should lose ourselves in the sustained, sympathetic, and loving care of others. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 428)
For Christians, the common bond of union is Jesus Christ. Our relationship with Him, established by the Holy Spirit, makes us all children of the Father, which in turn makes us spiritual “brothers and sisters.” This kind of love demands something from each of us. We’re not just attending spiritual meetings during the same time slot; we’re members of a body. (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 213)
Alas, how frequently is a spirit of partisanship mistaken for brotherly love: so long as a person “believes our doctrines” and is willing to “join our church,” he is received with open arms. On the other hand, no matter how sound in the faith a man may be, nor how godly his walk, if he refuses to affiliate himself with some particular group of professing Christians, he is looked upon with suspicion and given the cold shoulder. But such things ought not to be: they betray a very low state of spirituality. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1115)
A love that will not bear all, care for all, share all, is not love at all. (Croft M. Pentz; Zingers, 185)
The measure of our love is the measure of our sacrifice. (Croft M. Pentz; Zingers, 183)
Love in response to goodness is not love, it is reward. You don’t earn love. If you earn it, it isn’t love. So when the Bible talks about love and grace, it is always in the context of sin and rebellion. The Prodigal Son is not the exception of love, but the very definition of it. (Steve Brown, Born Free, 138)
(Mt 25:31-46) To fail to serve Christ’s people is to fail to serve Him, and to fail to serve Him is to prove one does not belong to Him. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 126)
(Mt 25:31-46) The parable therefore presents a test eliminating the possibility of hypocrisy. If the goats had thought that their treatment of Jesus’ “brothers” would gain them eschatological felicity, they would doubtless have treated them compassionately. But Jesus is interested in a righteousness of the whole person, a righteousness from the heart (see on 5:20; 13:52). As people respond to his disciples, or “brothers,” and align themselves with their distress and afflictions, they align themselves with the Messiah who identifies himself with them (v. 45). True disciples will love one another and serve the least brother with compassion; in so doing they unconsciously serve Christ. Those who have little sympathy for the gospel of the kingdom will remain indifferent and, in so doing, reject King Messiah. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 522)
(Mt 25:31-46) By feeding the hungry, giving drink to the naked, caring for the sick and visiting the outcasts in prison, the righteous have all unwittingly been rendering service to their Lord. By the very spontaneity and unselfconsciousness of their love, by their unaffected goodness, and their perseverance in well-doing, they have proved themselves true sons of their heavenly Father. They are worthy, therefore, both to be addressed by the king as those who are “blessed by His Father,” and also to receive from His lips the gracious invitation to enter into their rightful inheritance, which has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world (34). (R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 238)
Let us by no means be divided in heart, for scisms grieve the Holy Spirit, destroy our comfort, weaken our graces, afford occasion for gainsayers, and bring a thousand ills upon us. Whereas in these evil days the Church is so much divided into denominations and sections, follow peace with all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Hold what you believe with firmness, for you are not to trifle with God’s truth; but wherever you see anything of Christ, confess relationship there, and act as a brother toward your brother in Christ. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 444-5)
The tendency to excuse ourselves and quickly judge others is proof that pride has gripped our hearts. (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 136)
When we meet with one in whom we can discern the image of Christ, whether that one be a member of our party or not, there should our affections be fixed. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Rom 15:7): it is our bounden duty to love all whom Christ loves. It is utterly vain that we boast of our orthodoxy or of the “light” we have, if brotherly love be not shown by us to the feeblest member of Christ’s body who crosses our path. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1115-6)
This brotherhood is religious: all believers have one Father (Mt 23:8, 9), one elder Brother (Rom 8:29), who is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb 2:11); have one spirit, and are called in one hope of calling (Eph 4:4), which being a spirit of adoption interesteth them all in the same family (Eph 3:14, 15) —John Owen (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1108)
If believers belong to the same family, then the Father’s love must be expressed in their lives. This exhortation may have been particularly important if, as seems likely, this local church had been disrupted by divisions, rivalries and feuds (12:14; 13:9). (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 249)
“There is no learning sympathy except by suffering. It cannot be studied in a book, it must be written on the heart. You must go through the fire if you would have sympathy with others who tread the glowing coals. You must yourself bear the cross if you would feel for those whose life is a burden to them.” — Charles Spurgeon
When so many of our neighbors in the world are starving, when so many are poor and oppressed, what does valuing others more highly than ourselves mean? Certainly it challenges us to sacrifice the luxury in our life-style in order that others might have enough. (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community: Romans 12, 175)
Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights. — John Wooden
Wooden’s faith strongly influenced his life. He read the Bible daily and attended the First Christian Church. He said that he hoped his faith was apparent to others: “If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me.”
You are to love your neighbor as yourself. You are not to love our neighbor because they are like yourself. — Pastor Keith
What do you mean when you say, “I love you”? Do you mean I love you or do you mean I love what little bit of me that I can detect in you? Which in reality, is not love but arrogance, ego, pride, vanity, and narcissism. — Pastor Keith
God is not looking for a certain kind of righteousness. He is looking for a righteousness that is motivated from a heart of love for God and others. (Tullian Tevidgjian; Life Without God – Pt 9)
If brotherly love is to continue self must be denied. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1115)
Pride must be mortified if brotherly love is to flourish. Therefore the first injunction of Christ to those who come unto Him for rest is, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1115)
We must will to love one another. George Whitefield and John Wesley did this even though they disagreed in matters of theology. Whitefield’s words say it all: “My honored friend and brother. . . hearken to a child who is willing to wash your feet. I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, if you would have my love confirmed toward you. . . Why should we dispute, when there is no possibility of convincing? Will it not, in the end, destroy brotherly love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? How glad would the enemies of our Lord be to see us divided. . . Honored sir, let us offer salvation freely to all by the blood of Jesus, and whatever light God has communicated to us, let us freely communicate to others. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 207)
If brotherly love is to continue then we must exhort one another daily, provoke unto good works, minister to each other in many different ways. It includes far more than dwelling together in peace and harmony, though unless that be present, other things cannot follow. It also involves a godly concern for each other: see Lv 19:17 and 1 Jn 5:2. It also embraces our praying definitely for each other. Another practical form of it is to write helpful spiritual letters to those now at a distance from us: you once enjoyed sweet converse together, but Providence has divided your paths: well, keep in touch via the post! “Let brotherly love continue.” (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1112-3)
“When you smiled at the waters, there was a man smiling back at you.”
“And when you glared at it, the face of an angry man glared back at you. And when you stretched your hand out to the waters to give to it, the hand in the waters stretched back to give to you. And when you reached toward the waters to take from it, the hand reached back as if to take from you. This is the law of reflection. As you do, so it will be done to you. If you bless others, you will be blessed. If you withhold blessing, your blessings will be withheld. If you live by taking, it will, in the end, be taken from you. If you live a life of giving, it will, in the end, be given to you. Condemn others, and you will be condemned. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Live with a closed hand, and His hand will be closed you. Live with an open hand, and His hand will be opened to you. What you give will be given back. What you take will be taken back. Therefore, live a life of love, of giving, of blessing, of compassion, of an open hand and heart. (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 11)
THE DOCTRINE of “RECIPROCALITY”:
* The measure you use, it will be measured to you – Mk 4:24
* If you forgive others God will forgive you – Mt 6:12
* Proverbs – as you give to the poor God will give to you
* Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
* Luke 6:37-42 (heavy content in this passage)
* Matthew 7:1-5
Helping others is perhaps the greatest joy! You cannot have a perfect day without helping others with no thought of getting something in return. — John Wooden
II- We are to love strangers through hospitality. (Heb 13:2; see also: Lv 19:34; Dt 10:19; Isa 58:6-7; Mt 25:31-46; Lk 10:25-37; 14:13; Rom 12:13-15; 1 Tm 3:2; 5:10; Ti 1:8; 1 Pt 4:9; 3 Jn 1:5-9)
Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host–the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast, focuses on the guests. Their needs are the primary concern. Hospitality can happen in a messy home. It can happen around a dinner table where the main dish is canned soup. It can even happen while the host and the guest are doing chores together. Offer hospitality even if you are tired, busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain.
Share a meal with visitors to your church. Invite single people over for an evening of conversation. Think of how you could use your home to meet the needs of traveling missionaries. Hospitality simply means making other people feel comfortable and at home. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 231)
These “strangers” to be entertained, however, were not to be people who worked against God’s kingdom; that is, believers were not to welcome false teachers into their homes. 2 Jn 10-11 says, “Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person” (NRSV). (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 230)
Why this great premium on opening one’s home and life to others? There is a reason beyond meeting each other’s occasional material needs–it is in each other’s homes that we really get to know one another. In fact, you can never really know another person without being in his or her abode. In one’s home, over the table, relaxed amidst the decor and accouterment of one’s persona–that is where exchange is naturally enhanced and brotherly love elevated. Sharing a blessed meal at the family table can be quasi-sacramental. It binds us together in the reality that everything comes from Christ. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 210)
The author immediately addresses the all-too-common error of close church communities becoming ingrown, exclusive, and cliquish. To do this, the author intentionally juxtaposes two words that start out the same but end differently. We are not only to maintain philidelphia, but also philoxenia . Chances are, you’ve heard of xenophobia, the fear of “strangers” (xenos ). Those on the outside. Foreigners. People not like us. Just as we are to love the brethren (philadelphia), we are to show love for strangers (philoxenia). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 213)
One of the most encouraging features of contemporary church life is the way in which homes are being used, possibly as never before, in the work of evangelism, teaching and fellowship. Church Bible studies are held in the homes of Christian people and evangelistic house-groups are also being used as a way of reaching non-churchgoers with the good news of Christ. Many unbelievers find it extremely difficult to attend a church service. The informal meeting in the relaxed atmosphere of a Christian home can enable them to speak freely and openly about their doubts. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 250)
He is not necessarily encouraging his readers to expect that those whom they entertain will turn out to be supernatural beings traveling incognito; he is assuring them that some of their visitors will prove to be true messengers of God to them, bringing a greater blessing than they receive. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 371)
Plato in The Laws speaks of the inn-keeper holding travelers to ransom. It is not without significance that Josephus says that Rahab, the harlot who harbored Joshua’s scouts in Jericho, kept an inn. When Theophrastus wrote his character sketch of the reckless man, he said that he was fit to keep an inn or run a brothel; he put both occupations on the same level. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 191)
A Christian home is to be a center of hospitality to which strangers and worldlings are to have access.
Obviously this calls for initiative on the part of Christians. Strangers do not come around knocking at your door asking for an invitation to a meal. We must assume the initiative. Those strangers who come to church are a good place to begin, especially single persons, the lonely, and the aged. (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 181)
This is so practical I would like to pinpoint it with a question: Have you had a non-Christian into your home this past year? Have you taken this admonition practically and seriously and done this? For these things were intended to be practical means by which we can put into practice the tremendous themes we have been learning in the book of Hebrews. (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 182)
Strangers, even among pagans, were thought of as people who were almost sacred, under God’s special protection. So says Emmaus to Ulysses: “O stranger! It is not lawful for me, though one should come more miserable than you are, to dishonor or disregard a stranger; for strangers and poor belong to the care of God” (Homer, Odyssey 14:56). (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 257)
If love does not issue in a hospitable home, it has scarcely begun to work at all. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 249)
Here is the first instance given, among sundry particulars, in which the greatest of all the Christian graces is to be exemplified. The duty which is inculcated is that of Christian hospitality. That which was commanded under the old covenant is repeated under the new: “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lv 19:34 and cf. Dt 10:19, etc.). The Greek word for “entertain” is rendered “lodge” in Acts 10:18, 23, and 28:7. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1118)
Love is not a noun; it is a verb. What do you do to show love for someone else? When you give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, regardless of how you feel about that person, the giving is in love. When you reach out to a brother or sister who is in need, no matter how you feel about them, that is love, too. (R.C. Sproul; Doubt and Assurance, 76)
Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother nor in the enemy but in Christ and his Word. Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above; it is something completely strange, new, and incomprehensible to all earthly love. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 35)
Not only are our hearts, but our homes as well, to be opened unto such as are really needy: “distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality” (Rom 12:13). (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1119)
The Scriptures are full of examples where the Spirit has joined together duty and privilege, obedience and reward. Whenever we comply with such commands, we may count upon God recompensing those who exercised kindness unto His people. The cases of Rebekah (Gn 24:18, 19, 22), of Potiphar (Rn 39:5), of the Egyptian midwives (Ex 2:17, 20), of Rahab (Josh 6:25), of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:15, 23), of the woman of Shumen (2 Kgs 4:8), of the inhabitants of Melita (Acts 28:2, 8, 9), all illustrate this. The resulting gains will more than repay any expense we incur in befriending the saints. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1120-1)
Also as fellow believers move and travel more, let us make sure our churches are warm with hospitality. Let us welcome strangers to our services and new members to our midst warmly instead of watching them warily from a distance. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 171)
True hospitality springs from the limitless fountain of the divine love manifested to us while we were still estranged sinners (Rom 5:8), and it must likewise be spontaneous, unforced, and free from reluctance. Christians, as Peter urges, should reach out in love to each other and should “practice hospitality ungrudgingly” (1 Pt 4:8, 9). (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 563)
Providing food and accommodation for a stranger is an act of kindness. Furthermore, Christians who entertain a stranger in their own home have an opportunity to introduce him to the gospel of Christ. If the traveler accepts Christ in faith, he will spread the good news along the way. (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 408)
The danger of “being taken” is no excuse for not helping someone in need. A stranger, by definition, is someone we do not know personally. Consequently, it is easy to be deceived when helping a stranger. A person who asks us for ten dollars to buy food for his family may spend it on alcohol or drugs. We should use our common sense in deciding how best to help him, but our primary concern should be for helping, not for avoiding being taken advantage of. If we help in good faith, God will honor our effort. Love is often taken advantage of, but this is a cost that it does not count. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 426)
The opportunity of free board and lodging might tempt some unscrupulous characters to masquerade as Christians. Proteus Peregrinus in Lucian’s satire comes to mind; and the necessity of some rough-and-ready rule of thumb for detecting impostors is implied in the Didachē: “Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord, but he must not stay more than one day, or two if it is absolutely necessary; if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when an apostle leaves you, let him take nothing but a loaf, until he reaches further lodging for the night; if he asks for money, he is a false prophet. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 371)
III- We are to love inmates and the mistreated as if we were suffering. (Heb 13:3; see also: Isa 61:1-2; Mt 7:12; 25:31-46; Lk 4:21; Acts 24:23; Heb 10:33-34)
Christians are to have eyes and ears and hearts open to those who are in need around them and do something about it. This is true whether the needy are in prison or otherwise oppressed or mistreated. As Christians, we are all called to the ministry of compassion. (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 182)
Believers were always trying to find ways to smuggle food and themselves into the prisons. Often it cost them their lives to reach and help an ailing brother. The early Christians became so notorious for this that one Roman emperor, Licinius, passed a law forbidding anyone to show mercy to starving prisoners. Anyone caught supplying food to them was to share the same fate as the one he was trying to help. Yet that didn’t stop those early Christians. They bribed guards, paid ransoms, anything to help their brethren. (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 323)
This is intended to mean more than simply to call to mind: it involves the idea of identification with them. This would require deep Christian understanding and sympathy; to sit as it were with those who are afflicted. The ill-treated are presumably again Christians who are suffering for the faith, although it may be meant in a wider sense. The words since you also are in the body are added to remind the readers that they too could be exposed to the same treatment. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 268)
Mercy to the full range of human needs is such an essential mark of being a Christian that it can be used as a test of true faith. Mercy is not optional or an addition to being a Christian. Rather, a life poured out in deeds of mercy is the inevitable sign of true faith. (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 35)
They were to FEEL the hurt, the same as God feels it when any of us is in trouble. Only in this way could they be an extension of God’s love. Believers are able to express this kind of sympathy inasmuch as they are still in the body and exposed to similar testings themselves. In those days no one knew when it might be his turn to suffer for Jesus. The times were perilous indeed. The ability to put yourself in the shoes of an imprisoned brother and feel his suffering was a part of “brother-love.” (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 323)
We also need to be reminded that some of our own neighbors may be suffering from other forms of “imprisonment,” less stark but no less distressing. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 251)
Similarly, The Apology of Aristides describes Christians’ care for the incarcerated, saying: “If they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. If there is among them a man that is poor or needy, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food. (J. Rendel Harris, The Apology of Aristides, Vol. 1, 48-9) (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 211-2)
Some early Christians sold themselves into slavery to get money to free a fellow believer. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 428)
Some patients in geriatric units would welcome regular visits from a Christian. Are not such ‘isolated” people in greater need of the good news of Christ at the end of their lives than others who may often hear of him through everyday contacts with believers? But shut-in people will hear only if they are remembered and visited by Christians who discern this neglected area of work as their opportunity for pastoral service and compassionate witness. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 252)
These believers knew that at any time any of them could be imprisoned for his or her faith. They could become one another’s “fellow prisoners” in a very real sense. Those who were sent to prison ought to be remembered by those who were still free. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 231)
“Anyone who has gone through great suffering is bound to have a greater sympathy and understanding of the problems of mankind.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
When you make the choice to care, the price you pay is pain. — Steve Brown
After God liberated them, they wandered for decades in the wilderness, and they longed for a place to call home. When God gave it to them, he admonished them not to forget where they had come from. They were to show hospitality to the stranger in their gates. They were to open their homes and hearts to those around them (e.g., see Ex 22:21; 23:9; Lv 19;34; Dt 10:18-19; Ps 146:9; Jer 7:6). (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans, 425)
Here, of course, (Mt 25:31-46) the Apostle speaks of hospitality that is offered gratis and out of love, without any expectation of pay. The other kind is practiced also by the heathen. (Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, 177)
The Lord had encouraged his disciples to depend on such kindness during their missions (Mt 10:11). Without it, the spread of the gospel during the days of the early church would have been greatly impeded. With it, the “church in the house” became a reality (16:23; cf. 16:5). What sanctified this practice above all was the realization that in receiving and entertaining the traveler, those who opened their doors and their hearts were receiving and entertaining Christ (Mt 10:40; 25:40). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, 133)
It must be a terrible thing for a man to have never to have suffered physical pain. You say, ‘I should like to be that man.’ Ah, unless you had extraordinary grace, you would grow hard and cold; you would get to be a sort of cast iron man, breaking other people with your touch. No, let my heart be tender, even be soft, if it must be softened by pain, for I would fain know how to bind up my fellow’s wound. Let my eye have a tear ready for my brother’s sorrows, even if in order to that, I should have to shed ten thousand for my own. As escape from suffering would be escape from the power to sympathize, and that were to be deprecated beyond all things.” —Charles Spurgeon
Trials make room for consolation. There is nothing that makes man have a big heart like a great trial. I have found that those people who have no sympathy for their fellows, who never weep for the sorrows of others very seldom have any troubles of their own. Great hearts could be made only by great troubles. —Charles Spurgeon
Sympathy is a shallow stream in the souls of those who have not suffered.— William E. Sangster
Sympathy sees and says, “I’m sorry.” Compassion sees and says, “I’ll help.”
(Mt 25:31-46) Nothing more evidences conversion than a life marked by the compassion of God and the meekness and love of Christ. When the disciples of John the Baptist wanted evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, He replied by telling them not just about His spectacular healings but also about how He treated those in need (Mt 11:4-6). When He announced His messianic credentials to the people of Nazareth, He again reflected not on the amazing but on the way He treated the poor, the prisoners, the blind, and the downtrodden (Lk 4:18-19). The person who belongs to Christ will demonstrate such compassion and be humble about it. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 123-4)
A capacity for putting oneself in another’s place and exercising imaginative sympathy is part of true charity. This same imaginative sympathy should be extended to all who are ill-treated; those who are themselves “in the body” were meted out to them. The phrase “in the body” should not be interpreted to mean “in the body of Christ (as fellow-members).” (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 372)
What about those who, robbed of their freedom, cannot visit our homes, but long for us to visit them? The readers must think of the prisoners and feel for them sympathetically as though they were in prison alongside them. This means that they think carefully about the kind of help they would like if they were prisoners; a personal visit, some warm encouragement, a sustaining prayer, some useful provisions. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 250)
Love to the brethren is to manifest itself in sympathy for sufferers. Most reprehensible and un-Christlike is that selfish callousness which says, I have troubles enough of my own without concerning myself over those of other people. Putting it on its lowest ground, such a spirit ministers no relief: the most effectual method of getting away from our own sorrows is to seek out and relieve others in our distress. But nothing has a more beneficial tendency to counteract our innate selfishness than a compliance with such exhortations as the one here before us: to be occupied with the severer afflictions which some of our brethren are experiencing will free our minds from the lighter trials we may be passing through. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1121)
We must will to identify with the imprisoned and mistreated. None of us can excuse ourselves by rationalizing that we are not empathetic by nature. We are to labor at an imaginative sympathy through the power of God! (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, vol. 2, 212)
Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe Who inspired the writer of Hebrews to encourage us to pursue the important things of life: things like family, compassion, grace, hospitality and love. (1 Cor 13:13)
According to the narrative of Scripture, the very heart of how we show and distinguish true worship from false worship is apparent in how we respond to the poor, the oppressed, the neglected and the forgotten. As of now, I do not see this theme troubling the waters of worship in the American church. But justice and mercy are not add-ons to worship, nor are they the consequences of worship. Justice and mercy are intrinsic to God and therefore intrinsic to the worship of God. (Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship, 37-8)
(Isa 1:13-15, 17) God is saying through Isaiah: Orthodoxy without social concern is not orthodoxy!” So, too, social concern without the ministry of word would be a vain offering. (Timothy J. Keller, Ministries of Mercy, 114)
Brotherly love is important for three primary reasons: it reveals to the world that we belong to Christ; it reveals our true identity to ourselves; and it delights God. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 424)
Nothing is more pleasing to parents than to see their children caring for each other. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Ps 133:1). When His children care for each other, help each other, and live in harmony with each other, God is both delighted and glorified. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 424)
Gospel Application: There is no way you can love others with this kind of sacrifice, commitment, compassion and grace without having your heart changed by Jesus Who exemplified it all. Human nature simply does not have the capacity to do this without the presence of the Spirit of the Living God given through Jesus. (Acts 16:33; Gal 5:6, 22; 2 Pt 1:7; 1 Jn 3:10-11, 14, 17; 4:7-21)
Brotherly love such as our Lord asks of us requires constant practice and concentrated power that can come only from the cross of our Elder Brother. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 170)
His infinite love for us is the source and stimulus of our love for each other. Hence the precept given by the Master in the upper room: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34; cf. 15:12, 17; 2 Jn 5; 1 Jn 3:11, 14, 16-18; 4:7-12). (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 562)
Matthew Henry well pointed out, “the spirit of Christianity is a spirit of love.” The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22). Faith worketh by love (Gal 5:6). “Everyone that loveth Him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of Him” (1 Jn 5:1). Love to the brethren is both the first indication and fruit of the Christian life (Acts 16:33) and the final aim and result of Divine grace (2 Pt 1:7). (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1107-8)
The mercy of God to us should melt our hearts into mercy toward others. It is impossible that we should be cruel to others, except we forget how kind and compassionate God hath been to us. (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 86)
The only way you can become holy is to live from the Holy. The only way to become pure is to live from the Pure. The only way to become good is to live from the Good. The only way to become loving is to live from Love. The only way to become truly giving is to live from the Gift. And the only way to become godly is to live from God. You don’t attain heaven. You let heaven, through your life, touch the earth, touch every part of your world. . . on earth as it is in heaven. (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 136)
Anyone who possesses saving faith immediately begins to do good works. We are not justified by our works in any way whatsoever, but we are justified to good works. Thus, the ultimate test by which we will be determined to be in Christ or not is the presence or absence of fruit. On the last day, our professions of faith will be judged by the works we have performed. Again, we are not justified by our works, but if we do not have works, that is clear evidence that we do not have saving faith. (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 735)
To understand Jesus’ teachings, we must realize that deep in our orientations of our spirit we cannot have one posture toward God and a different one toward other people. We are a whole being, and our true character pervades everything we do. We cannot, for example, love God and hate human beings. As the apostle John wrote, “Those who do not love their brother who is visible cannot love God who is invisible” (1 Jn 4:20). And: “The one who does not love does not know God, who is love” (4:8).
Similarly James rules out the blessing of God and the cursing of human beings, “made in the likeness of God,” coming from the same mouth (3:9). He also indicates that humility before God and humility before others go together. Those humble before God do not “judge” their brothers and sisters (4:6-12).
The same basic point of the necessary unity of spiritual orientation is seen in Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness and about forgiveness and prayer. “If you forgive men the wrongs they do you, your Father in the heavens will also forgive you. But if you don’t, neither will he (Mt 6:14-15). (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 232)
It’s one thing to believe God’s love when you believe you’ve given Him cause and reason to love you. But it’s something else entirely when you’ve given Him no cause and no reason. But love needs no cause or reason. And God needs no reason to love you. He loves you because He is, and because love is. You can’t cause God to love you anymore than you could cause God Himself. Love loves without cause, except for the cause of love. So in your darkest pit, in your most unworthy, undeserving, sinful, and ungodly state, when you’ve given God absolutely no cause or reason to love you, He will love you still. And it is then, when you receive that uncaused love, that amazing grace, that it will change your life. . . and allow you to manifest the miracle to others. (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 326)
The three principal graces–faith, hope, love–can only thrive in a healthy soul. Just so far as personal piety wanes will brotherly love deteriorate. If close personal communion with Christ be neglected, then there can be no real spiritual fellowship with His people. Unless, then, my heart be kept warm in the love of God, affection toward my brethren is sure to decay. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1117)
Christian brotherhood, therefore, is essentially brotherhood in Christ; for as he is the only Son (1:2, 5ff., etc.) so, as has already been stressed, it is through union with him that we participate in the grace of his sonship, and in him are accepted as the sons of God and, as sons, brothers and fellow heirs with him who is the heir of all things (1:2; Rom 8:14-17; Eph 1:5-7, 11-14; Jn 1:13). (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 562)
The obvious cause of lovelessness among Christians is sin. Jesus predicted, “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Mt 24:12). Nothing cools love as fast as sin, especially that of selfish pride. Contrary to the claims of much popular teaching and writing today that goes under the guise of evangelicalism, self-esteem, self-glory, and pride are the great enemies not only of God but of love. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pt 5:5). Apart from humility, so-called love for others is nothing more than using them for selfish ends, for our own purposes and satisfaction. Self-concern and brotherly love are as mutually exclusive and contradictory as darkness and light. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 425)
Spiritual Challenge: Love. Love others as brothers. Love strangers through hospitality. Love those who are prisoners or mistreated with sympathetic compassion. (Lv 19:18; Dt 10:19; Mt 22:39; 25:31-46; Mk 12:33; Lk 10:37; Jn 13:34-35; 15:12; Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-34; Gal 5:14; Rom 12:10-15; 13:9; Phil 2:3-4; Col 3:12-14; 1 Thess 4:9; 2 Thess 3:5; Heb 13:1; Jam 2:8; 1 Pt 1:22-23; 4:9; 1 Jn 3:15-17, 23; 2 Jn 1:5; 3 Jn 1:5-9)
Spiritual Challenge Questions:
1)- Do I really love?
2)- If the God police were to investigate my life for evidence that I truly loved God and had Jesus in my heart, would they find enough evidence to be convinced I was a Christian? (Mt 25:31-46; 1 Jn 3:10-23; 4:7-5:2)
3)- We have great love because we discover we have been greatly loved (Lk 7:47; 1 Jn 3:10-23; 4:7-5:2). How can God’s great love for me become more apparent and more real so my love might increase? (Lam 3:22-23)
4)- How is God telling you to show your love for others?
Such love is more than simply warm feelings; it is an attitude that reveals itself in action. How can we love others as Jesus loves us? By helping when it’s not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others’ welfare rather than our own, by absorbing hurts from others without complaining or fighting back. This kind of loving is hard to do. That is why people notice when you do it and know you are empowered by a supernatural source. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 230)
Since we were given brotherly love when we were given spiritual life, we should exercise this love. The Christian’s task is not to seek God’s blessings but to use them. We already possess all the blessings that are most important, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pt 1:3). Our primary concern should not be to look for blessings or to ask for blessings but to use our blessings (cf. Eph 1:3). (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 423)
The rule for all of us is fairly simple: do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. — C. S. Lewis
I don’t know about you, but I cannot simply muster up more love. I can’t manufacture patience just by gritting my teeth and determining to be more patient. We are not strong or good enough, and it doesn’t work that way. None of us can “do goodness” on our own, much less all the other elements that make up the fruit of the Spirit.
But despite our inability to change ourselves in this way, to simply become more peaceful or joyful, we expend a great deal of effort trying. We focus on what God wants us to do and forget the kind of people He wants us to be.
Instead of mustering up more willpower, let’s focus our energies and time on asking for help from the One who has the power to change us. Let’s take the time to ask God to put the fruit of His Spirit into our lives. And let’s spend time with the One we want to be more like. (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 148)
Put in its most basic form, brotherly love is caring for fellow Christians more than we care for ourselves. When we are preoccupied with ourselves, we stifle brotherly love. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). Brotherly love is nurtured in humility, and humility grows out of right spiritual knowledge. When we measure ourselves against the Person of Jesus Christ, who is the standard for our living, we see ourselves as we really are and are humbled. Only then are we truly able to love as God wants us to love. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 424)
I was hungry, and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.
I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked, and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick, and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless, and you preached a sermon on the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely, and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy, so close to God
But I am still very hungry, and lonely, and cold. (Written by a homeless lady turned away by a pastor who promised to pray for her.) (Simon Guillebaud, Choose Life, 365 Readings for Radical Disciples, 10/3)
The command of our text reminds us of how love may wax cold, and how it may be sadly wanting in the Church. In divisions and separations, in indifference and neglect, in harsh judgments and unloving thoughts–alas, how little has Christ’s Church proved that it has its birth from the God of love, that it owes its all to Him who loved us, gave us the new commandment of love, and asked us to prove our love to Him by bestowing it on our brethren. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 518)
So What?: If you discover you are lacking the love to motivate you to sacrifice for others; then, more than likely, you lack saving faith and you have never encountered Jesus so as to make you a new creation. (Mt 25:31-46; 1 Cor 3:9-15; 10:6-12; 11:27-32; ch 13; 2 Cor 5:17; 13:5-7; Jam 1:23-24; ch 2; Heb 6:11; 2 Pt 1:10; 1 Jn 3:10-18, 23; 4:7-21; 5:2-4).
A sure proof of salvation is found in our own hearts. It is our love for each other. If we wonder about our salvation, we can ask, “Do I have a great concern for the welfare of the Christians I know? Do I enjoy their fellowship? Do I show my concern by ministering to their needs?” If the answer is yes, we have not better evidence that we are a child of God–because we love His other children, our brothers and sisters in Christ. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 424)
Refusing to help fellow believers when we are able to do so proves we do not really love them; and if we do not really love them, how can God’s love be in our hearts? And if His love is not in our hearts, we do not belong to Him. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 425)
In effect, God has given the world a right to evaluate us on the basis of our love for each other. As a witness to the world, and as a testimony for our Lord, it is of the greatest importance that we genuinely consider others better than ourselves, that we look out for their interests above our own. In so doing, our lives preach a powerful and eloquent sermon. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 424)
Even Luther himself had these shining moments, such as when he wrote in his “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans”:
O it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 756)
True faith, which springs into being from the love of God, must itself blossom out into love for our fellow men. Brotherly love is the hallmark of the genuine Christian. (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 565)
We need to ask ourselves if we have received a changed heart by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This sort of self-examination is a spiritually healthy thing to do. In fact, this is what the apostles often exhorted their readers to do (2 Cor 13:5; Phil 2:12; 2 Pt 1:5-11). The first order of business is to know our own souls. Are we trusting in the finished work of Christ alone for our salvation? Is there evidence of God’s grace in our lives? Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24), and in the virtues mentioned in Christ’s beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12)? (Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member?, 50-1)
The last judgment will be a judgment according to evidence. People’s deeds are the witnesses which will be brought forward, and above all their works of charity. The question will not merely be what we said, but what we did: not merely what we professed, but what we practiced. Our works unquestionably will not justify us: no one will be declared righteous by observing the law; but the truth of our faith will be tested by our lives. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (Jam 2:17). (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 246)
Such an exhortation as this is most needful today when there is such a wide tendency to value light more highly than love, to esteem an understanding of the mysteries of Faith above the drawing out our affections unto each other. Here is a searching question which each of us should honestly face: Is my love for the brethren keeping pace with my growing (intellectual) knowledge of the Truth? (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1111)
If I am at outs with my brethren and am unconcerned about their temporal and eternal interests, then I have no right to regard myself as a child of God. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 1117)