Hebrews 13: True Sacrifice

“Just give me something to do!  Enough with the philosophy, tell me what to do!”

This exhortation is one I have heard a lot in my life as a teacher, especially when teaching busy, pragmatic adults.  My teenage students have a much higher tolerance for the theoretical, ironically.

The book of Hebrews ends well for those who are looking for something to do.

Our part, then, is this: to bring, through him, a continual sacrifice of praise to God — that is, mouths that confess his name, and do so fruitfully.  Don’t neglect to do good, and to let “fellowship” mean what it says.  God really enjoys sacrifices of that kind!  (13:15-16)

There is a real threat that religion — any religion — will replace the true relational worship God is truly seeking.  For the Hebrews, that meant substituting law observance and religious rituals for a true faith in and imitation of Jesus.  For us that substitution might come in a variety of forms:

  • Letting our assurance rest in our baptism or church involvement
  • Defining our goodness by charitable giving
  • Assuming that Bible reading, prayer, and listening to Christian music are the activities God most want from us
  • Thinking that the greatest things we do for God happen in a church building

This has been a common chorus as we have meditated on Hebrews.

Notice what the Hebrews author says are the sacrifices that God truly desires: praise, witness, goodness done to others, and fellowship.  In other words, love God and love others.  The sacrifices God most desires are relational, not ritual.  They are the sacrifices of will, time, and energy.  It could be that the best sacrifice we could give today would be to forgive a friend who has wronged us or to take the risk involved in mentioning Jesus to someone.

As we finish Hebrews today, summarize in one sentence the overall message you have heard God speak into your life from this book.     

Categories: Hebrews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Hebrews 13: True Sacrifice

  1. Gandrew

    “Once you’ve tasted something real, there’s no turning back.”

  2. Eddy Efaw

    Love this line above. “There is a real threat that religion — any religion — will replace the true relational worship God is truly seeking. For the Hebrews, that meant substituting law observance and religious rituals for a true faith in and imitation of Jesus.” It reminded me of this article by a professor at ACU. (Richard Beck, professor of Experimental Psychology) http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/search?q=the+bait+and+switch+of+contemporary+christianity&submit=Search

    • What a great, great post you linked to. It is worth the time to read for sure.
      I like too how your thoughts here emphasize that the relational side of true worship isn’t just about how we interact with God, but how we treat others, how we become “decent human beings,” to use Beck’s terms.

    • Melanie Semore

      Eddy, thank you for sharing this article. Excellent!

  3. Chris Dahlberg

    Keep looking at and to Jesus, strive to be like him while remembering he is above all and in all at the same time.

    • Nicely parsimonious! 🙂

      “Above all and in all” — my conversations with a Muslim friend remind me how scandalous a belief this truly is.

  4. Eddy Efaw

    Jesus is above all . . . because God wanted it that way.

    *Glance through and see how many times the word God is used in this writing. It’s remarkable.

    • Sounds a lot like that book by Tom Schreiner we picked away at together: “Magnifying God in Christ.” I don’t think I noticed how much God is at the forefront of Hebrews, I guess, because of the focus on the supremacy of Jesus. Nice point!

  5. Trent Williamson

    The following line from the link Eddy shared sums it up for me: I truly want people to spend time working on their relationship with God. I just want them to do it by taking the time to care about the person standing right in front of them.

    While Hebrews is extremely deep theologically – the concluding chapters (especially 13) are remarkably practical. Do good, share, live honorably, love one another, treat those mistreated as if YOU are being mistreated, keep marriage pure and honored, trust God, obey and submit………just PACKED with some Christian life 101 stuff!! I’ve loved Hebrews and hate to leave. Where are we headed next???

  6. The only way to really move forward is faithfully following the One whom the Father has sent us.

  7. Melanie Semore

    From The Message–
    God takes pleasure in acts of worship–a different kind of “sacrifice”–that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

    My Hebrews summary–God desires sacrifice on our part, but not the ritual variety. The sacrifice he wants in us involves how we live our lives in faith before him.

    • I love that you are sharing some from the Message. I don’t remember whether I said, but originally this blog was going to be called “The Message for Today” and I was going to do the same thing with The Message, not the KNT. Then the KNT was published. I love the way Peterson says things, elaborations and all.

  8. sanders8892

    I love your summary and the verse connected with it! I think we also often view sacrifice as “high and lofty” when God’s view is that acts of sacrifice are real, active, rubber-meeting-the-road, tangible, practical, and current. Come to think of it, actually prepping an animal to be sacrificed was a pretty good example of this list and not “high and lofty” at all. Where did we (read I) get this notion that sacrifice is so removed from everyday life. It seems that God had just the opposite concept of this essential part of our faith.

  9. There is much in this chapter. I love the way Peterson says things. I was drawn to this line today: “Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.”

    The original text is talking about ceremonial food here, but I like how Peterson connects this to the rampant Christian consumerism of our time. Go to a Lifeway Christian Store or the now-required bookstore in many church lobbies and what will you find? A million products all “named after Christ,” promising to get you closer to the Savior. Will they? Some do. But there are a lot of people making a lot of money “selling Jesus.” And the unsanctified state of much of American Christianity would seem to suggest that these products don’t have as much power as we might think they do.

    Maybe the Hebrews writer would encourage us not to trade consumer Christianity for a real relationship with a sacrificing Savior.

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