Learning in the Family of Faith
There’s all the difference in the world between describing what it means to ride a bicycle and actually helping somebody get on the seat and pedal away. Making a cake seems to be fairly straightforward when I look at the recipe books, but I haven’t had much success in making one that actually tastes right! What I need is hands-on guidance: somebody to do it in front of me and then allow me to try my hand at it too.
The moral instruction provided for us in Hebrews 13 is to be trained and formed in our lives not by learning to apply abstract principles but as a result of seeing these principles worked out in the family of faith. We can read, for example, about what it means to love one another, but it is far better to observe such love in the lives of loving people. We can understand that we’re supposed to care for strangers, but we can experience it firsthand if we’re brought up in a home where such care is faithfully practiced. We can read the principles and demands for sexual purity, but we will do far better if we are raised in a flourishing home where they’re modeled or are able to sit in such homes as we visit other families in our church. The list goes on and on.
Establishing these ethical norms is demanding. It takes time, patience, and involvement. They cannot be achieved by watching a video or reading an article. If information was enough to bring about transformation, then all we would need to do is write it down or say it. But you can’t learn love, honor, and faithfulness from the content on a screen. No, if you are to be content, pure, loving, and hospitable, then that is going to have to be discovered and worked out in the family of faith.
Look, then, to your brothers and sisters who exemplify Christlikeness in these ways. Read Hebrews 13:1-4 again, praise God for those you know who live these verses out, and then be sure to learn from them so that in these ways you become like them. Make it your aim to so follow their example that you, like Paul, might humbly be able to say to others, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). What will that look like this week?
Sacrifices Pleasing to God
1Let brotherly love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
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