Read: Hebrews 13:1-3 

We were driving to Illinois when I decided to fill the gas tank. I knew that the farther south we drove the higher the gas prices would be. So I pulled into a gas station and went through the routine of getting the fuel I needed. But when I went to get back into the driver’s seat, I noticed an obvious smudge on the seat. It was “dark” against a very light background. Immediately my thought life went through the following dialogue: “This is terrible! This car is only two years old. That smudge is going to ruin the look and feel of the interior. How could I be so stupid as to drop a piece of a chocolate chip and not realize it?”

OK, I know what you’re thinking. You are saying, “It’s pretty stupid that you got so upset about a smudge on a car seat. Get some cleaner, and rub it out.” (Thank you very much! That’s exactly what I did.) But I agree the whole dialogue was silly. I’m even embarrassed that I’m writing about it, except for the fact that you also have been through similar scenarios that do damage to your soul. In addition my experience makes a point about our text for the week. So many of the material things we have—and value highly—are earthly things. They may be shiny, appealing to the eye, and have a shelf life of only a decade (or less). But according to Hebrews 12:25-29, they are passing away!

So how should those of us who are Christ-followers live in view of so many “non-permanent things?" They are all around us. So how should we care for our souls and avoid getting upset, knowing that many “material” things are passing away? Let’s start by taking a look at what the writer to the Hebrews is doing.

Notice that in Hebrews 12:25-29 he refers to the actions of the Triune God in two ways. God has spoken, and God will judge the earth. The emphasis is upon the latter. 

You will also want to notice that the writer is saying that not everything will remain (cf. 12:26-27). In fact, only the things of the Kingdom of Christ will last into eternity (cf. 12:28). The “Kingdom” refers to those things under the rule and reign of Christ. “Kingdom” also refers to the ideals and practices that are pleasing to the Savior. 

And then this same writer moves into chapter 13 with a series of exhortations. The primary one is found in verse 1 where he says, “Let brotherly love continue.” The phrase is probably self-explanatory. It refers to the specific, intentional love for our fellow believers—those in our local church fellowship and those in our immediate families who profess faith in Christ. And the writer makes this statement in view of the fact that most of what we see (and idolize now) is passing away. Therefore, SINCE ONLY CHRIST’S KINGDOM IS PERMANENT, PERSEVERE IN BROTHERLY LOVE! 

What would you be doing if you were pursuing brotherly love? Lots of things, but three responses are described in our text. 
  1. We will be persevering in brotherly love when we practice hospitality. What’s that? The word literally means the “love of strangers.” So often we think of “hospitality” as inviting a friend over for dinner or participating in a church potluck. Those activities are acceptable and good. But the hospitality the writer is addressing loves the strangers who happen to cross our paths while facing serious personal needs. We are to provide for them through what God has given to us. Why would we do such a thing? It’s because we may actually be having fellowship with angels—a possible reference to the angelic visitation to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. 
  2. We will also be persevering in brotherly love when we care for those who are persecuted for their faith. Our text refers to “prisoners”—a reference to first-century Jewish Christians who were incarcerated under the most harsh conditions, simply because they embraced Jesus as the promised Messiah. For us that means we are to remember those in many parts of the world who are being persecuted because of their faith. The idea is that when we attempt to imagine what they are going through, we will be better able to pray for them and care for them when the opportunity arises. 
  3. We will be persevering in brotherly love when we care for the “mistreated.” In the first century some believers were thrown in jail and it brought great hardship and agony to their families. Others were ridiculed, beaten, and harassed. In our own day there are those who are rejected by former friends and marginalized by their families. Again, as we “remember” them, we will be better able to meet their needs when their circumstances come to our attention. 

Look around. There is a good chance that there are things that you “value” very much. And if those things were to be marred in some way, you might get upset. Before that happens, memorize Hebrews 13:1-3. Keep reciting it for a month. When you do, the Spirit of God will remind you that so many of the things we value are actually passing away. They will disappear when King Jesus comes to judge the earth and establish His permanent, righteous Kingdom. So for now, persevere in brotherly love.

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