Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise— the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
The book of Hebrews concludes with a chapter filled with practical instruction which tells us how we are to live as Christians. The style of this chapter is noticeably different from anything we’ve seen in the first 12 chapters and, at first glance, it seems like a strange addition to the book. In fact, some critical scholars suggest that it really is a secondary addition written by a second author. A more thoughtful approach to this chapter might be to see it as a summary of next steps for how to worship God in light of everything we’ve read.
There are a few reasons why we might view chapter 13 as next steps for how
to worship. First, the final challenge of chapter 12 contains a call to worship: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). A list of instructions on how to worship naturally follows a call to worship. Second, Hebrews has reminded us time and time again that because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we now have access to the throne of God where worship happens (Hebrews 9:14). If we have access to God, then what other response is more natural than worship? Finally, Jesus’ sacrifice brought an end to the old sacrificial system in which believers worshiped God by offering animals (Hebrews 10:1-18). But that doesn’t mean that He put an end to worship; people can worship in many different ways. Scripture teaches that we can worship God with our voices and with our service. This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews invites us to do in the middle of this chapter: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
When we consider all that Jesus has done for us, and the incredible sacrifice He offers, we are compelled to worship Him. These closing instructions give us a road map to worshiping God with our voices and with our lives. It is important that we think about how we can put Hebrews’ closing instructions into practice so that Jesus can receive a worthy response of worship through our lives.
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.
BENEDICTION AND FINAL GREETINGS
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
22 Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.
23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released. If he arrives soon, I will come with him to see you.
24 Greet all your leaders and all the Lord’s people. Those from Italy send you their greetings.
25 Grace be with you all.
Worshiping God involves more than just singing, it involves sacrificial living. If worship is more than just words to a song, how would you say that you worship God in your daily life?
Hebrews 13:9 instructs us to “not be carried away by strange teachings.” While this might seem obvious, it is actually very easy to fall prey to. We live in a world where we are taught to be accepting of everyone’s beliefs and viewpoints. As Christ-followers, we should be loving and accepting of everyone, but we should also hold firmly to biblical truth. What “strange teachings” have you come across in your life that have made you question what the Bible teaches? What do you need more clarity on as you seek to understand God’s truth in today’s world?
In Matthew 25, there is a well-known parable that ends with Jesus saying, whenever we serve the least of these we are serving Him. This parable teaches us that loving others glorifies God, and when we serve others, we worship Him. Understanding the link between serving and worship is important. God doesn’t need us to serve Him— we serve others to worship Him. When you understand that, it changes the way you view serving. So, who are you serving? If you’re not serving, how can you get started today?