Monday, July 30, 2018

Hurried Instructions

Hurried Instructions
July 30, 2018
Hebrews 13:16  "And do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."

The author of Hebrews is unknown, but some believe it to be Paul since in the last few verses the author mentions Timothy and life in prison. Nonetheless, the author of Hebrews takes great care to lay out the majority of the book and then the last chapter of the book, Hebrews 13, seems rather hurried. He is writing as if he is running out of time but wants to give out a list of things to remember, instructions to keep in mind. Maybe he was in prison and sensed his time running short. Maybe he would be traveling soon and needed to come to a close. Regardless about his time frame, and the hurried instructions, they are not to be taken lightly. There are a few themes woven throughout the last chapter of Hebrews and the themes actually connect nicely, despite the laundry list of items.

He says we are to be hospitable, taking care of strangers. Then a few verses later he mentions the Lord will equip us to accomplish His will if we answer His call. And then just a few more sentences later he instructs us to be generous to others with our sacrifice in that generosity being noticed and appreciated by the Lord. While the complete set of important instructions in Hebrews 13 are hurried they are not a laundry list of mutually exclusive items. They are all important and even build upon each other, progressive in maturity. 

Being generous to strangers, with brotherly love, involves doing something that is not quite natural. It is natural to serve the self, but serving those we have no attachment to, that is another thing. He instructs us to be hospitable to strangers, entertaining angels unaware. Culturally, they understood that back then. You welcomed strangers to your front door and took anyone in, treating them like royalty. But it goes beyond the knock at the front door, it goes into every person you bump into at the grocery store or waiting in line for coffee. You should show hospitality to them, too. This is rather easy because those instances are truly for a few nano seconds. Anyone can hold it together for nano seconds. It is easy to fake a smile and be polite for a few nano seconds. But the author of Hebrews does not stop there. He suggests we should go out of our way to be overtly generous to them, to the point of sacrifice, self sacrifice.

When was the last time you gave to someone in a sacrificial manner? Maybe you sacrificed for a loved one, maybe a dear Christian in your church, but what about a stranger? These instructions, to give generously, sacrificially, to strangers is akin to the story of the Good Samaritan. Remember the Good Samaritan took the fallen man to a nearby town and paid the inn keeper to feed and house him. The Good Samaritan didn't just help someone stranded on the road change a tire, he paid for weeks of food and shelter. It was a sacrifice. The Lord says we are to live this way, being sacrificial to strangers. We are all called to sacrifice for strangers but few of us answer that call. When you have the opportunity to respond to the call for the strangers you meet, the Lord will equip you to to accomplish it. He doesn't ask that you give out of your extra or plenty. He asks you give even if it hurts a little; this is what blesses Him. These instructions are hurried from the author of Hebrews but the implementation of them are anything but simple or easy or hurried. It takes deliberation to live with and implement these hurried instructions.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Luke 10:25-37, Heb 13

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