Be Good for God’s Sake

A sermon idea based on Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16.

Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16 NRSV

[1] Let mutual love continue. [2] Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. [3] Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. [4] Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. [5] Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” [6] So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”

[7] Remember your leaders, those 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.

[15] Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. [16] Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.


The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Because God is good, he enables us to be good and to do good and to give him glory along the way.


Information about the text that matters to the message…

Based on what we know, from both scripture and history, about the tendencies of the human heart, we must deconstruct our idea of what it means to be “good,” allow God to redefine goodness for us, and then construct a life that models the life of Jesus and points others toward him.

The writer of Hebrews has built a passage-by-passage case for the goodness of God and the transforming grace of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Shepherd. Now, toward the very end of the litter, the writer gives us a big therefore (it’s in 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks…“).

Because of all that Jesus has accomplished, and because of the goodness of God as demonstrated through the earthly life of Christ, we are empowered by God’s grace to bring the kingdom of God (again, see 12:28) to the world around us. And the writer also gives us a list of practical ways to do so.

  1. Love each other (which leads to…)
  2. Show hospitality to strangers (no matter their place or culture of origin)
  3. Remember those who are in prison (no matter why they may be there)
  4. Protect and honor your marriage (because marriage itself is protective for both spouses)
  5. Be content with what you have (instead of constantly wanting and consuming more)
  6. Remember your leaders (and honor their teaching and example)

And woven between these words of instruction are encouragements to give credit and glory to God as the ultimate Giver.

Being good doesn’t make us right with God. But being good, like God, is how we show the rest of the world how good it can be to experience God’s love at work in our lives and communities.


The big call-to-action in the message…

Challenge your heart to make room for those who most need to experience God’s love from God’s people. This is how we bring the kingdom life to the world around us, and this is how we lead others into God’s kingdom.

Appreciate these notes?
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About the Cover Art: Otterness, Tom, 1952-. Immigrant Family, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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