By Chuck Williams
Pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington
Focal Passage: Hebrews 13:1-8
Whenever a pilot gets ready for takeoff there are standard procedures he must follow. If the proper preparations have not taken place, he and his passengers are at great risk. The pilot has spent years studying, testing, and training in order to navigate his craft properly.
The first 12 chapters of Hebrews are similar to the pilot’s preparation. These chapters give the readers a doctrinal foundation to stand on. Now it’s time for them to put it into practice; spread their wings and fly in the power of the Holy Spirit. In effect, the writer is saying “As you go out into God’s blue yonder these are some practical things that will be worked out in your journey.”
• Don’t be selfish (vv. 1-3). In the New Testament brotherly love means spiritual love for all the body of believers. This love is not to be reserved for just family or friends. It is not to be held back for those we have a natural fond affection. This love forgets all the differences we have and opens the door for everyone. The beauty of it is that I Corinthians 13:8 says it “never fails.” Brotherly love is the Elmer’s glue that will hold a congregation together. It’s superior to any program, procedure, or preaching.
This love manifests itself by showing hospitality. The Hebrew Christians took it as their sacred duty to entertain fellow believers from other lands or districts who might be traveling through. In doing so the writer tells them that some unknowingly have entertained angels. What a great blessing that would be today!
• Don’t be sensual. Marriage was to be held in honor in its right place as a divine ordinance. There is a blessing that comes for anyone who keeps himself/herself pure before marriage and also during marriage. But there is judgment for those who ignore or disdain this sacred ordinance.
He not only speaks against the sensuality of marriage but also money. The New Testament constantly warns about the “money trap.” It promotes a hardness of the heart. There is no denying that money is necessary. The businessman or worker is to be diligent to provide for his family but his mind and heart is not to be captivated by it. The key to contentment is not to be lazy and uncaring; rather it is to be satisfied with the Lord in whatever place He has placed you. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us; therefore I do not need to work to accumulate more treasure on this earth to satisfy the hole in my soul.
• Be grateful for the pastors. Yesterday a mother shared with me that her little daughter said, “I wish I could live next door to Bro. Chuck and Miss Sara. That way I could talk to them about God all the time.” Needless to say I was surprised, shocked, and humbled by the 4-year-old’s statement. Being a minister is a huge responsibility as the eyes of the congregation are upon you … even those little eyes that you often miss. As our Southern Baptist Convention President, Ronnie Floyd, said, “Ministry will give you the highest highs and lowest lows.” I often think about that whenever I am at one of those two places.
The writer then reminds them of the sure foundation they have. Times, people, technology, and the weather will all change but our Savior is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore we are not to be carried away by strange doctrine, new ideas, or special revelations. The Devil does his best to move us away from Christ being our focus and foundation. These bad ideas lead to bad decisions.
— Williams is pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington.