HEBREWS 13:1-3: “Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. 3 Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.”
OBSERVATION: The writer of Hebrews begins to close his epistle with an exhortation to show brotherly love. This is the natural outflow of a sincere faith in Christ. This is the hallmark of faith. Faith working through love is the evidence of the presence of Christ in our lives. Yet, the writer of Hebrews reminds us of the same truth Jesus taught his disciples. Loving our brother extends beyond those we know, those who are easy to love. Loving our brother includes the stranger, our enemies, the sick, and those who are in prison.
The outcast is quickly discarded by the world. It should not be so among believers. We are the ones who understand the devastation of sin and the power of grace. If we don’t reach out to those whose lives are broken – who will? Jesus said – “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus came for those who were the outcast by society, and also outcast by the “religious” of His day. They are the ones who responded to His call. They are the same people to whom the writer of Hebrews is exhorting to grow in brotherly love. It is easy for us to forget our roots and to sequester ourselves away from the world, away from the stranger, away from the sick, away from those who are hurting and in prison (literally or emotionally). We are called to love!
There is one more interesting part of this exhortation. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that when we entertain strangers, when we reach out to those in need – we may be actually entertaining angels. This peaks my curiosity on many levels. First, angels appeared to people in the Bible in basically two ways: 1) as heavenly beings, and 2) as normal people. The writer of Hebrews is referring to the latter. Second, the thought of encountering an angel is not suggested in the arena of our fellowship or among someone of notoriety or greatness – but in the simple life of a stranger! If Jesus, our Lord and Savior, began His earthly ministry as a humble child born in a stable, why would it be strange to think that we encounter angels in the “least of these”? Could it be a test of our love? I don’t really know. However, it is something to ponder the next time we see someone that we are tempted to walk in an ark around to avoid them. Could I be dismissing one of God’s angelic hosts? Something to think about!
Lord, help me to walk in love towards all people, especially to those whom the world views as outcasts. Help me extend your love and life to the hurting, the sick, the imprisoned, the stranger, and even those who have positioned themselves as enemies. Let the love of Christ compel me and enable me to grow in brotherly love. Who knows – it just may be an angel! In Jesus Name!