In our study of Hebrews chapter thirteen, we will look at how the Christian life is a life of love. Paul concludes this letter to the Jewish believers with an encouraging picture of what it means to live the Christian life.
"Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters." NIV translation
The Hebrew word for love here is hesed and it speaks of a loyal love. This is a sacrificial care for our fellow Christians because of our relationship through Jesus Christ. Paul urges us to hold on to this love because it is going to get tougher and tougher for a Christian to walk the walk in this world. As times get tough, the flesh tries to get us to focus on ourselves and what we need but Paul urges us to follow Christ's example and serve in the tough times.
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." NIV translation
That loyal love extends to those that we have not even met before. The body of Christ is a very large body and we do not even know most of its members. Several people such as Abraham, Jacob, and Joshua were visited by angels that took the form of men. It is just as possible that God might send an angel to you in the form of a person that you don't know.
"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." NIV translation
This love (hesed) is demonstrated to our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith. Would you be willing to trade places with an imprisoned Christian so that they might go free? Maybe not, but that is truly the love that is being referred to here.
"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." NIV translation
Paul makes the distinction between this type of love and the physical relations between a man and a woman. The marriage that he speaks of is the union of a man with the woman that God created just for him. This is second only to our individual relationships with God and comes before our relationships with others. We should be close to our brothers and sisters in Christ but we are only united with our spouse.