Holy Friendships – Part 1

Hebrews 13:1-7

“He/she so heavenly minded no earthly good!” Lose some of force present in live delivery of sermon in its entirety. Started at beginning in first verse, gradually building, lifting sights of hearers to heaven and worship in presence of God and angels. Wow! What can possibly be left here? Where’s the bus for heaven? Could easily become totally consumed with heaven and all its glories. But wait, God expects us to be some earthly good – “Let brotherly love continue.” If much of focus / emphasis chapters 1-12 on relationship with God, love for God, chapter 13 shifts focus to 2nd command – love for others.

Yes, complete perfect union with Christ in heaven our ultimate goal. However… God hasn’t given up on this earth yet, neither must we. More particularly, God through inspired writer draws attention to people… relationships… what has significance now and in heaven.

“The world,” said Alexander MacLaren, “takes its notion of God most of all from those who say they belong to God’s family. They read us a great deal more than they read the Bible. They see us; they only hear about Jesus Christ.”

Remember what Jesus said: John 13:35“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” So… if we are to portray accurate image of God, verify to others that we are Jesus’ disciples, must pursue holy friendships. Not sure if is result of way nation came into being – war with brothers – followed by several more, then war on terror. Result: war talk all around, goes beyond just talk… influences actions also… and among Christians. Too many wear label of Christian, act like trying to pick a fight. Not what Jesus had in mind, even toward enemies.

If we love God, worship God as he deserves, are looking to Jesus as the goal, then we will – love others, love spouse, don’t love stuff, love godly teachers. Each one worthy of at least one sermon <wink>!

A. love others v.1-3

brothers and sisters (1)

you know what it is, don’t need another dissertation – have Jesus words, Jesus’ example, Jesus commands

4x, last night: “love one another”, twice added “as I have loved you” – love is foundation and fountain of all duties (Owen)

brotherly love must be cultivated – especially with those difficult to love (yeah, even Christians!)

has already begun, let it continue – feed it, water it, weed it, whatever it takes to be strong and healthy

don’t take it for granted… quickly leads to taking brothers and sisters for granted

don’t neglect someone because don’t know them, sit on opposite sides of church, don’t think you have much in common – seriously? have Jesus in common, what more do you want or need?

what does it look like? in a word, Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you”

in relationship with others, think about what is best for them, do it – what you are going to say or do, will it meet their need

what you are going to say or do, will it move them closer to Jesus? will it encourage a Christ-like response in them? will it stir them up to do what is good for them?

love for brethren “according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” Eph. 4:16

edify – encourage growth of Christian character; happens best within relationships, knowledge of one another

iow… serving, not being served; putting needs of others before our own; sacrificing/denying self and following Jesus

so… who is my brother and sister? who is it we’re supposed to love?

just those present now? those formally recognized as members of this local church? only Baptists? our kind of Baptists?

let’s make it simple: do you love Jesus and keep his commands? do they? then… love ’em!

strangers (2)

be hospitable on purpose, to one another, but especially to strangers – φιλοξενια (v.2) vs. φιλαδελφια (v.1)

somewhat different culture here / now than 1st century, then travel was risky business; Christian hospitality a great blessing

hospitality starts with mindset, beginning even before child can walk – quickness to share resources with others

those not in habit of being hospitable don’t suddenly get that way when strangers need a place

may require extra creativity to find opportunities – consider: Bible college in SoPo, college campus between here and village

must be a few opportunities for hospitality to brother or sister far from home, needing encouragement

take it up a notch or two – how about hosting exchange student, short or long term foster care, endless possibilities

sufferers (3)

not so much of an issue here…yet, as in 1st century – suffering for cause of Christ, but is probably coming

does happen, though – lose job because of choices about work sched; lose opportunities because of Christian witness

are countless numbers of brothers and sisters around the world imprisoned because of their faith; countless more suffering

must be mindful of them, those who love them – pray first, then tangible help when means is available

are others closer by: ones incarcerated who have come to faith, need encouragement; Christian refugees escaped from suffering, come to our cities and towns

Matt. 25:34-36Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'”

B. love your spouse v.4

marriage is honorable

commended by Jesus

“DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is beteen Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul.”

even when marital partner behaves dishonorably

is not performance of individuals that gives it honor – if so, union between Christ and church could not be honorably compared to marriage

responsibility to behave honorably whether you feel like it or not

husbands, are you treating your wife, miserable as she may be, as Christ loves the church?

wives, are you following the leadership, honoring your husband, even when he blows it?

are you both seeking godly counsel when needed, encouraging struggling brothers and sisters?

do you think and act honorably toward spouse if marriage is of necessity dissolved

and when God has not granted gift of marriage

if clear that singleness is your lot, keep proper attitude toward both being single and being married

believer has duty to keep proper perspective on marriage regardless of what world says

marriage is to be honored

true whether past, present or future

formerly married, not any more, keep it right; presently married, do it right; hopeful to be married, plan for it right

part of doing it right is proper modeling for others, including children and young people – will be hard for them to honor what they do not perceive as honorable

we don’t get to make up rules for marriage: Matt. 19:4-5

“He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’?”

significant reason why alternative definitions gain traction easily – shabby condition of too many marriages, lack of esteem in which marriage is held

the Creator instituted marriage as final act of creation before sanctifying the seventh day – only thing that ranked higher than marriage was worship!

don’t forget what Jesus said about faithfulness

Matt. 5:28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

applies to both genders, regardless of marital status – damaging to self, dishonoring to other person to think or act lustfully

remember, too, could be someone else’s husband or wife (present or future) you are dishonoring

biblical (not traditional) marriage to be the setting of mankind’s greatest earthly joy

the ultimate for the believer is union with Christ; marriage is picture of Christ’s relationship with the church – husbands love your wives…; if greatest joy is found in union with Christ, marriage ought to model that

truth is: those who try to find that joy apart any other way than how God has established will come up empty

living together, homosexual relationships, multiple partners, none will provide fullfilling joy

Holy friendships that honor both God and others take work, commitment, most of all… total dependence on God and grace and strength he supplies. It’s 100% our effort and responsibility and 100% God’s provision and enabling that together result in God-honoring friendships. No greater joy to be found apart from fully committed service to Christ, determination to draw closer to him moment by moment.

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