Continue in Love

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Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Hebrews 13:1-3

Chapter 13 is largely made up of exhortations, and from these, we can fill in any blanks we might have in our understanding of chapter 12.  Notice how it begins: “Keep on loving…”  As we saw at the end of the last chapter, this is really what the book is trying to teach us, to keep on doing the things we are supposed to do as Christians, no matter what happens in this life.  Obviously, this should have had a powerful impact on the original recipients of the letter who were having such a rough time in Rome, but let’s not think it doesn’t apply in our time as well.  Loving one another is one of the commands of Jesus that is repeated over and over again in the New Testament, and frankly it deserves more than lip service from us!

Showing hospitality to strangers is another common theme in the New Testament; have you ever wondered about it?  Does it mean showing hospitality to dangerous persons on the run from the police? Does it mean only for other believers?  Different people are led in different ways here… and for the record, I wouldn’t advise harboring fugitives from the law… I can only suggest that we all follow the Lord’s leading in this.  Some, especially those who have the spiritual gift of hospitality, will be led more than others. Certainly, however, those who habitually refuse hospitality might not seem like people who are sharing God’s love very freely.

Taking this verse in a broader cultural context sheds a better light on its meaning.  In that context, it would seem most likely that the author is referring to people who are believers, such as those sent from another church congregation. A travelling preacher or messengers might qualify more than just anyone who looks lost…

Finally, those in prison. I doubt the author is talking about random thieves and other violent criminals. It seems more likely to me that he is referring to people being held in prison for their faith, as were many at the time of his writing. this would fit more clearly into the first verse and its injunction to keep on loving one another.

In short, these three verses are all about sharing the love of Christ with others!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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13 Responses to Continue in Love

  1. paulfg says:

    Don – on the back of the previous chapters and your words, today’s piece has “got me” down deep. This context malarkey and the slice and dice division that so often goes with bible verses …

    Made me realise – Jesus “did stuff” we may not want to (or be able to) emulate – yet we surely extract the juice to influence our own thoughts and behaviours, so too this “personal letter” to a specific group in a specific place at a specific time.

    I find myself extracting the juice rather than worrying about “doing the same” with every sentence an action and recommendation – and in so doing, it is influencing my own thoughts and behaviours.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Excellent, that’s it entirely. Jesus, those people in Rome, the author of the letter: They all “sis” but they also all had different abilities, gifts and opportunities, so what they “did” wasn’t always the same deeds, yet what they all “did” contributed to the same end.

      We “do”. But like those others, we don’t all have the same abilities, gifts or opportunities, so what we “do” may not be the same deeds, but they all contribute to the same end.

      Slice, dice, juice; did, deed, do: whatever we may call it, the end is love, share disciple faithful.

  2. laydii says:

    Thank you for ministering to my heart this morning. A wonderful, much needed post, indeed. Be blessed.

  3. Connie says:

    Thanks for this, Don. I appreciate your consideration that our call to hospitality doesn’t necessarily mean opening our doors to those who might harm us – and, yes, this will vary from person to person. I have a circle of blog friends who are Christians and who are parents of addicts. One of the biggest struggles they each faced was deciding when to shut their door to their (adult) addict child. Sometimes the greatest love involves saying “come in” and sometimes it means letting go. Anyway, I will be sharing this with that group for sure. God bless.

  4. Pingback: Continue in Love | One Mom Talking: the ongoing story of one parent, three teens, and heroin

  5. Elaine says:

    Thank you for putting more clarity and “common sense” application to the phrase “showing hospitality to strangers”. Some seem to get confused by that concept. Always we need to use common sense in order to avoid putting our families or ourselves in danger. I appreciate your writings Don. Your words are a blessing.

  6. scythewieldor says:

    3 John 5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; 6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.
    Supporting those brothers and strangers who, for the sake of the Name, go out taking nothing from the gentiles (remaining not yoked together with unbelievers) is something we ought to do. It may be that we will receive strangers bearing letters from brothers we trust (for me, the writers of the books of the New Covenant). If they are not compromised by yokes with gentiles (501c3 included), show a special level of hospitality.

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