“Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13:1, AV)
One of the things that just broke my heart in the pastorate was when parishioners in the church who professed to be Christians just could not get along. It was so frustrating when I tried to get two believers to settle their differences and they were just too proud to do what the Bible said. That is to do everything possible to live at peace (Rom 12:18), to be kind and tenderhearted to one another and to forgive one another (Eph 4:32). Strife between believers should never exist in a local congregation. Moreover, the mature must take the spiritual high ground in being forbearing with the weak (Col 3:13).
In the previous verses, the writer of Hebrews exhorted believers to be grateful for the mercy and grace that God has extended to them and to do this by the service of worship. This as explained in the previous devotion is to offer yourselves as living sacrifices to God. Here, the author presents a series of ways the believer is to do this. The first of which is the manifestation of Christ’s love towards others.
All true believers have the Spirit of God dwelling within them. This is the Spirit of Christ in us. As such, the love of Christ indwells every true believer. The question is not the capacity to love others, but the willingness to do so. The only thing that can stop it is the flesh with its prideful tendencies. Pride will absolutely kill the manifestation of the love of Christ in one’s life.
The author shows some ways that love should be manifested in our lives. First, he states, “Let brotherly love continue.” Brotherly love refers to that love that must exist between brothers and sisters in the body of believers. Here, there must always be forbearance and forgiveness. There is no room for holding grudges. In love, believers must also extend grace to bless others in the congregation.
Second, the author mentions hospitality to strangers. Christ’s love will move us to entertain people that we do not know well. Now, some do have a special gift of hospitality. These people just love to entertain others in their homes. Yet, the writer of Hebrews does not let anyone off the hook in this area. While we may not have the gift of hospitality, we must be hospitable to people. The author points out hospitality to strangers in particular. He states that in doing so we may entertain angels without even knowing it.
Third, we must remember those who are in prison. I believe that he is referring to believers who have been imprisoned for their faith, yet we cannot eliminate the idea of remembering others we know who are not believers. In a similar way we should remember those who are mistreated.
In this entire area of demonstrating love as a service of worship, the main issue s one of sacrifice. We are to sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others. This includes sacrificing our time and energy, our wants and desires, our judgmental attitudes and desire for retaliation, etc. The reason this is so vital is threefold. First the church must be a united body functioning in perfect harmony. Without this it cannot stand strong in accomplishing the mission of Christ. Second, a church where believers do not love one another, will not glorify God. Third, the love that the disciples have for one another is a key witness to a lost and dying world (John 13:35). Remember the sacrifice of love as a spiritual service of worship.