Tithes and Offerings
Love, Hospitality, and Sympathy
Hebrews 13:1-3 (Pastor Heo)
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
This is the last chapter of Hebrews. In the Bible, there is no division between:
- Doctrine / Duty
- Revelation / Responsibility
- Theology / Application
- Believing / Behaving
These two always go together.
In the last section, the emphasis is on living by faith – as we studied in:
- chp 11 – the examples of faith,
- chp 12 – encouragement to faith,
- chp 13 – evidence of faith that should appear in our lives if we are really living by faith, not by sight.
Last week, “our God is a consuming fire” and also “consuming love.”
From fire to function, from vertical to horizontal, from love for God to love for human beings. It is clear: what we think about God determines how we think / act toward human beings in this world.
The relationship with God will be acted out in our relationships with other human beings, strangers, the lost.
Last week, our God is “consuming fire” of Mt. Sinai, and also “consuming love” of Mt. Zion. So, the relationship we have with God is revealed in the relationship we have with human beings.
- 1-4 = vertical relationship, between God and man,
- 5-10 = horizontal and ethical, the relationship we must have with our brothers and neighbors.
In chp 13, we read only 3 verses, but we can see three keywords of evidence of living by faith.
These three keywords: Love, Hospitality, and Sympathy (empathy).
As we know, we worship such a God. We saw last week that worship is our lifestyle, so our worship must be done in our practical relationship with our brothers and sisters in this world.
Let us see these keywords one by one.
“1 Keep on loving each other as brothers.”
Early Christians faced hatred and persecution from the world so they should be able to find love and encouragement in the church.
The commandment to love is a very Old commandment (Leviticus 18:19 “Love your neighbor as yourself”)
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: love one another as I have loved you. In this way, people will know that you are my disciples.”
This old command is called “new” by Jesus – this means, “to love each other in the same way that Jesus loves us.” We are to love based on Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross. Such love brings people to Christ and makes us strong and united in this world.
Jesus is the living example of God’s love. Like this, we are to be living examples of Jesus’ love in this world.
Romans “Christ demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
John 3:16 “God so loved the world…”
1 John 3:14 “He laid down his life for us…”
Bible says, “Let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and truth.”
“God loved us first and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
“No one has ever seen God, but if anyone is in God …”
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear. Fear has to do with punishment…”
How? How can we love as Jesus loves? It is more than warm feelings, but it reveals itself in actions.
How can we love our brothers and sisters? By helping when not convenient, by giving when it hurts, by devoting energy to others without complaining or fighting back.
This love is very difficult – so people notice when we do it and they can know that we are his disciples when we do this.
We are truly brothers and sisters in Christ. These terms are not merely sentimental, but facts. No matter how many Christians there are, we all share one father.
We know how happy parents are when children love each other, likewise God is pleased when we live together in unity.
Psalm “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.”
God bless us to dwell in his love and love each other with his love.
“2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Ex: Genesis 18, Abram and his wife Sarai received 3 strangers and entertained them without knowing they were angels.
Widely speaking, messengers sent by God are angels – because “angel” means “messenger.”
“Hospitality much be practiced.”
1 Peter 1:9 “Offer hospitality to each other without grumbling.”
1 John 1:8 “Show hospitality to others…”
Why is teaching on hospitality needed so much even 2000 years later.
In the ancient world, hotels, inns, were dangerous, dirty places, often pagan and even criminal activities were done there. Also many Christians suffered deportation by society or their own families. Wandering preachers and evangelists were always on the road. Slaves had no home of their own to go to. Businessmen also had travels and journeys to make. All of them needed hospitality.
Even today, we have homeless people, emotionally, spiritually. They need a homelike place.
Yes, Jesus lived his earthly life like a homeless person. He spent many nights on the mountain to pray. “Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but I have no place to put my head.”
On the last day, the Judgment Day, he will say,
“When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, thirsty, something to drink, stranger, you welcomed me in.”
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Hospitality: to make someone feel welcome and at home
It is much better to practice hospitality than miss the chance to entertain angels.
Still today, they need hospitality to show that God is in this world.
“3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Jesus became flesh – he identified with us in our humanity, our weaknesses, our temptations.
Hebrews 2:18 “Because he suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
“We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He has been tempted in every way as we are, yet was without sin. So let us approach the throne of grace with confidence to help us in our times of need.”
Sin is like a slave market in which a sinner is sold to sin. Sin is like a prison in which a sinner is bound under the sentence of death. Jesus bought us from this market – indicating complete deliverance and freedom from this market. Jesus loosens bonds and sets us free by paying a price, the price of his blood.
He redeems us from the curse of death under the Law by becoming a curse for us.
He frees us completely from the prison of sin, death, hell.
Gal 5:1 “It is for freedom that Jesus has set you free. So stand firm, do not let yourselves be burdened again with a yoke of slavery.”
All kinds of real freedom can be found in Jesus Christ.
“I’m the truth. Know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
On the last day, the Judgment Day, Jesus will say,
“When I was in prison you came to see me.”
“When? How?” “
Whatever you did for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did for me.”
We have power, authority, privilege, blessing, to share this kind of real freedom in Christ with those who need freedom in Christ.
v. 3 “Remember”
At least this week, let us not forget these three keywords:
God bless us with these so that we may share these with others who need it.
God bless you.