Beginning in Chapter 13 of the letter to the Hebrews, the writer reminds us that pulling and sticking together especially when dealing with adverse circumstances is so inspirational and encouraging. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are accentuated during trying and tough times. We can even pull away from others when facing a crisis or retreat further into our shell of comfort. But we need each other. We were created by God to be in fellowship and partnership with Him and with one another.
With that in mind, we are told in Hebrews 13:1, “Brotherly love must continue.” The word ‘continue’ implies that this love existed already amongst this group of believers but that it was in danger of not continuing. The writer has already informed us that some had abandoned meeting together with other brothers and sisters in Christ on a regular basis.
We must always s be aware and alert to our love growing cold for others and for not loving others in the way Jesus loves us. Out of all the distinguishing marks Jesus could have chosen to characterize His faithful followers, love is the one He chose. “I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Let’s remember that whatever God commands us to do, He enables and empowers us to do through the presence of His indwelling Spirit. It is a supernatural love that only the Holy Spirit can produce in us and express through us.
During very difficult days we can turn against one another. We can allow our spiritual enemy whom we are really fighting against (See Ephesians 6:12) to divide us rather than unite us. We already live where hatred towards others is so rampant. It only exacerbates our hard situation when we are cut off from our fellow Christians or we choose to be cut off from our fellow Christians. Peter writes, “So love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Love is more than a disposition. It is a decision we are making continually coupled with distinct acts of serving, caring, supporting, and encouraging one another. It must be mentioned on a daily basis and properly manifested constantly. “Be devoted to one another with mutual love” (Romans 12:10). “Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
Let’s not forget that many of the recipients of this letter had lost friends and been ostracized by their family for having made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Their brothers and sisters in Christ were all they had. They needed more than ever to hang in there and be together.
Brotherly love can easily be frayed or forgotten if we do not endeavor continually and intentionally to preserve it. This love must be expressed when our fellow Christians are in need, but we are not well-acquainted. (Hebrews 13:2) The word “hospitality” is literally a love for strangers. This love must be expressed when our fellow Christians have been imprisoned and are suffering because of the cause of Christ. (Hebrews 13:3) This love must be expressed to those closest to us; our spouses if we are married. (Hebrews 13:4)