The Book of Hebrews #69 chapter 13:1-4 pt. 2
The Book of Hebrews
Christian Ethics, Part 2:
Love, Sex, and Marriage
Hebrews 13:1-4
 
We began a study of Christian Ethics from the the 13th chapter of Hebrews last week.  And we noted that there are three areas of Christian ethic that are addressed.  First there are those ethics in relationship to others.  Next, there are ethics in relations to  ourselves, and thirdly to God.
 
In the first category there are two primary subjects he addresses.  We looked at the first one last week.  At the top of the list is love.  The author says, “Let brotherly love continue.”  We said that most likely is spoken to the family of believers although it might have been meant to include their Jewish family as well.
 
In verse 2 he expands the application to include those outside the family of faith or near kinsmen to “strangers”.  We never know who we are entertaining.  It may even be an angel sent from God.  It goes without saying that love is to the most recognizable characteristic of a child of God. 
 
The second statement of ethic the writer addresses in relationship to others is
 
2. Sympathy
 
verse 3
 
He’s describing compassion.  Think of yourself as being in their situation and what it would be like to experience what they’re going through.
 
Christians in those days were many times thrown in for their faith. I think that’s what he’s specifically addressing here in this verse.  Don’t forget about them; don’t become critical of them.  Have empathy and compassion.  Be sympathetic.
 
Perhaps the most unChrist‑like characteristics of all is to grow selfish and cllous and say, “I’ve got enough troubles of my own without getting involved in anybody elses.” That is a terrible attitude to have.  In fact it is the exact opposite of the ethics of Christianity.  We are to have sympathy for someone in need.
 
Perhaps the greatest need in the church today is to replace our self‑centeredness and self-pity with love for others. In fact the best way to get rid of your own problems is help someone else with theirs.  Far too many people want to wallow around feeling sorry for themselves and thinking about how bad they’ve got it when if they’d get out and look around they might just realize how good they’ve got it and how blessed they are.
 
I’ve told more than one person when their momma’s and daddy’s want to start whining around to take them to the nursing home and roll ‘em up and down the hallways and let them get a little glimpse of how good their life really is.  The greatest cure for the depression that many are experiencing is just a good dose of reality.
Get out of the bed, take a bath, put on some makeup and go help someone.  You’ll be amazed at how much better you might feel!
 
I am convinced that most depression, at its core, is nothing more than self-centeredness.  The ancient statesmen of Athens, Aristides, said of the Christians, “If they hear that any one of their number is in prison or in distress for the sake of their Christ’s name, they all render aid in his necessity, and if they can, they redeem him, to set him free.” In other words, if he was in jail, they’d pay the price to get him out.
 
Now I realize that doesn’t sound too sympathetic, but sympathy doesn’t mean you get down in the mud and wallow around with someone.  I’m not going to join folks in their pity party.  I’ll help them get out of the mud; I’ll help them get cleaned up and feel better.  But one of the primary things sympathy does is see the reality of what is going on, then formulates a plan to improve the conditions.
 
There are a lot of people with a lot of needs, and one thing the church needs to do is to learn how to help with those burdens instead of enabling people to continue. Paul said in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens.”   Why?  In so doing, we “fulfill the law of Christ.”
 
And what is the law of Christ? Love. See how it works?  If we are going to fulfill ethic #1 of sustained love, then we must develop ethic #2 of sympathy.
 
 
We need to bear each other’s burdens; we need to feel what they feel. Christ did. What did we learn earlier in this letter to the Hebrews?  Our High Priest is not One “who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are.”
 
He knows everywhere we’ve ever been; he’s felt every pain we’ve ever felt. He is a sympathy High Priest.  Notice again what he says in verse 3. You’re in the body. You know how they feel. Lose yourself in the care of others.
 
So that’s the first category. The Christian ethic begins with the relation to others and that relationship includes sustained love and sympathy.  Just to put it simply, it’s loving and caring for folks.   It doesn’t matter if they are brothers or strangers.  It doesn’t matter if they look and smell and act and talk like us or not.
 
It is the requirement of God’s people that they love and care for others and do it with sympathy that realizes where we once were ourselves.  
 
The second area our Christian Ethic address is the responsibility to yourself. What is the believers’ responsibility to one’s self? And this begins in verse 4 and number one in the list is sexual purity.
 
Now there is a natural connection between verse 2 and verse 4.  He’s been discussing love.  But if love gets perverted, it turns to lust and lust brings about sexual impurity.  So there is a temptation for me to go ahead with a discussion of the next verses, but I think we’ll quit where we are and then tackle these verses next week.
I have a couple of reasons for that.  First, his discussion of sex and marriage is pretty involved and we need to take time to deal with it, and secondly, next week Lisa will be gone on the mission trip and I can say whatever I want about marriage and she won’t be here to make faces at me.  So we’ll quit right there for tonight.

 

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