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Hebrews 13:1-19, Service Well-Pleasing to God

The letter to the Hebrews was written at a time of great turmoil for them. Their temple had been torn down and they were terribly oppressed by Roman rule. Jesus had been gone a long time and it seemed as though things might never get better for them. But the writer of Hebrews knew that a better life doesn’t come simply by waiting for it. A better life comes when we work daily to make it a better life – for us and for others.

I was born hopelessly optimistic about the possibility that this world can become better than it is. My partner was born with the ability for acceptance that this world is what it is. We often have long debates over this issue. For me, the upside of wanting to make this world a better place is that I continue to improve myself for the betterment of the world. I have learned how to cook so my kids don’t have to eat fast food all the time. I recycle and conserve water, and I’m even looking into composting. I buy fair trade items and support organizations that work to stop human trafficking and find cures for chronic diseases. The downside is that I’m never satisfied. It really bugs me when I throw away a can that I’m just too lazy to rinse out for the recycling bin. I’m super sensitive of jokes that are offensive to women, blacks, or any other minority group, and I let those get under my skin a little too much sometimes.

The downside to my partner’s acceptance of the way things are is that he’s not all that interested in making this world a better place as long as it’s good enough for him. The upside is that he doesn’t let much get under his skin. He rolls with the punches and he loves and accepts people for who they are, despite their failings or flaws.

We learn a lot from each other, and we make a pretty good team. I shut off his TV when he’s not been watching it for a couple of hours. He reminds me to love people that I feel compelled to correct. Together we do make the world a better place, and I guess that’s a pretty good start.

Hebrews 13:1-19

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 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. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 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?” Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 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. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.

Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon.