“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1 -2)
The writer of Hebrews (attributed to Paul) gives his listeners good advice about living a Christian life. One of the hallmarks of a Christian life to be kind and generous not only to those you know, but those you do not know. And those that you may not know of, unless you asked about them and were concerned.
“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.” (Verse 3)
For the early church it was not beyond reason to think that those they knew, and felt close to, might be in prison and might be tortured. Being a Christian was not without risks, and could be brutally punished. Paul would know these things, having once been Saul.
“Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Verse 4)
Then Paul sort of, to my way of thinking, digresses a bit. I am not sure why marriage as a practice was mentioned here. But I am sure Paul had a good reason; and note, beloved reader, in this portion of scripture Paul does not define marriage, but asks that it be honored. So let us not place more on/in the passage than what is there.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Verses 5 to 6)
Then, as now, the accumulation of wealth, financial resources/possession and influence was a common pursuit; and regard was often given to those with the most and not necessarily those who lived the more authentic Christian life. Going from one social strata to another was not often heard of, so one’s position in life at birth would probably be the same one at one’s passing. Paul tells his readers not to be afraid or concerned about such realities. The Lord does not honor such things, but helps those whose lives are stressed and strained; however, one must not expect that help to be assistance to a more affluent way of life! And if there was any question as to how to live . . .
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Verse 7)
This final verse might be one that we modern readers should take special note of. While life circumstances and perspectives may change and evolve . . .
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Verse 8)
“Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Verses 15-16)
If in Paul’s time when the expectation was that Jesus would return soon and so worldly concerns should not have been held tightly, how more so is it a struggle and sacrifice today to share and to good to others when it means having less for one’s self. And with that thought, I will close. Selah!