7 Sacrifices We Should Make

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The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 6 Part 2
Lesson Text: Hebrews 13

In Part 1 of this lesson, we established that we need a plan of action to finish the walk of faith like the heroes of Hebrews 11. They accomplished some extraordinary feats of faith because they trusted God.

They were not able to accomplish those things out of some cold, blind, new thing they had come to believe. They got to the point of execution because it was a lifestyle they practiced every day. Faith (and the ability to be obedient) grows with practice.

The Hebrews writer compared the faithful Christian journey to a race, and we took the time to explore what he meant. To be competitive in a race, we have to:

  1. Build up our endurance
  2. Execute on a plan

Since part 1 was all about the need to build up our endurance, we will now take a look at what comes second – executing our plan.

In Hebrews 13, the writer covers a list of duties that do not come naturally to people in general. Endurance will start to come in handy as we carry out the Christian duties listed in our lesson text. We will refer to them as sacrifices, but when we get good at practicing what is on this list, they become a way of life.

Brotherly love. Top of the List

(Hebrews 13:1)

As you go to your next worship service, keep in mind that brotherly love is one of the reasons for going to church. It is a time to strengthen the bonds among those with whom we study and worship.

Those bonds:

  • help us become teachers
  • help us become charitable
  • help us learn from the examples of others
  • help us feel grow to maturity
  • help us practice compassion

John has a very specific warning about our place with God and the love we have for our brother. (1 John 2:9-11) Practicing kindness, making connections and not being a busybody are ways to get into God’s light. Even if we have everything else we need to be in the light, a lack of brotherly love will shade into darkness.

Brotherly love is not only good for us; God requires it!

Hospitality

Hebrews 13:2 makes me think of Genesis 18 and 19, where Abraham and Lot granted hospitality to some strangers that turned out to be angels. Whether or not the Hebrews writer was thinking the same thing, we can draw a critical parallel between the two passages. If we make a habit of being hospitable, we will occasionally entertain someone who is a blessing to be around.

A congregation I used to attend invited Jane McWhorter to speak in a ladies’ day event, and my wife and I hosted her in our home. I promise you I got more out of that experience than all the ladies that attended the actual event. I treasure every conversation and insight I gained from our visit. It certainly helped me to understand what the writer was trying to tell us in Hebrews 13:2

Make it a goal to connect with someone new. The return on this small investment will be immeasurable.

Concern

Hebrews 13:3 urges the audience to remember those that were imprisoned or mistreated for their beliefs. I used to think this is not something we have to worry about in our time, but not anymore. Finding news about Christians dying for their faith is easy. It is even easier to find those who are mistreated because of it.

Members of the body of Christ deserve anything we can do for them to help with their situation.

Contentment

Hebrews 13:4-6 is a reminder to be content. Those who are married are to remain faithful to that commitment. Gaining wealth and possessions should not be our focus.

Trying too hard to improve upon physical pleasures and increase possessions will cause us to lose focus on the race. It becomes one of the encumbrances the writer mentioned.

As Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:6 that godliness with contentment is great gain.

Obedience

Hebrews 13:7, 17

The role of the church’s leadership is twofold:

  1. They are examples
  2. They have the responsibility for the church body

As stated in verse 7, The church’s elders are teachers and leaders. In Acts 20:26, Paul advised the elders at Ephesus to follow his example and provide the full council of God and to care for the flock. As such, they have dedicated themselves to be an example, and most importantly, being a good student of the word so they can aptly teach it.

Verse 17 says to be obedient to the elders. Following the instructions of the congregation’s leadership is given the weight of an apostolic command in this verse with our soul placed in the balance. Remaining submissive to their scriptural leadership is an excellent way to promote harmony and growth in the church.

Follow the Truth

Hebrews 13:8-14 requires our focus to remain to the word of God. There are hundreds of denominations claiming to be faithful churches, but teach things that are foreign to what the Bible teaches.

This happened because they didn’t protect their faith…

They allowed themselves to drift…

They failed to mature.

Jesus never changes. (Hebrews 13:8) So we can assume if Jesus never changes, but there is change in the church, then it must be the people that did the changing! Remember that the next time someone says the Bible is outdated.

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
-John 8:31-32

Praise God

God absolutely desires our worship. (Hebrews 13:15)

Praise him in public.

Praise him among friends.

Praise him when things are not so good.

The “fruit of the lips” the writer is talking about here will nourish your faith as your ears hear your own voice praise him.

Final Thoughts

This list of responsibilities helps us shape the character of our lives through dedication to Christ.

The author concludes this epistle with a benediction, maybe one of the best in the Bible:

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead,
that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is
well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen. – Hebrews 13:20-21

Through this study, we have either discovered or been reminded of the Who, What, When, Where of the Gospel of Christ.

  • Who – Christ is the authorized head of the church/kingdom of God.
  • What – Christ brought with him the perfect sacrifice and salvation
  • When – At the time of his sacrifice he brought us a better covenant
  • Where – Down the path that leads us to “the rest.”

To make it all the way, treat it as a race: do things to increase your endurance and reduce encumbrances so you can finish!

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About Butch Adams

In addition to writing this blog and contributing elsewhere, I have served as elder and deacon in the various places I have worshiped. In these duties, I have concentrated my attention to the area of education - both in outreach to seekers through the Internet and inside the congregations for ongoing Bible scholarship. Comments and thoughts about referenced material in the article above are Copyright 2015 by Butch Adams . Any referenced material belongs to its owners and every attempt has been made to use it according their wishes.

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