Chapter 13:13-16 (ESV) - Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Question to consider: What is a sacrifice of praise to God?
After 2000 years of living under the new covenant, it is very difficult for us to imagine what it was like to live under Mosaic law. Not only did Israel have to perform bloody sacrifices to cover over their sin, but they were charged by God to be His sword, purging the nations from sin and burning them to the ground. The closest thing we have to this today is Islam which believes they are God’s sword, but they do not act with true holiness and justice so it’s a distorted view of what Israel was like. In Christ under the new covenant, we have beat our swords into plowshares. Instead of being God’s sword, we are His harvesters. Instead of purging sin from the nations with blood and fire, we redeem the nations for Christ through the proclamation of the gospel, the good news that they can be made right with God by the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
Because Christ was crucified outside the city where the sacrifices were burned, we are to follow Him, suffering the persecution of men as we proclaim the name of Christ and look forward to His return in glory to end all sin and death forever. Our sacrifice of praise not only includes our words, but our good works and generosity. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” For those looking to find their purpose in this world, that verse sums it up.
There are churches today that have focused their energies on serving the community. I commend them for their good works as long as they are doing it in the context of preaching the gospel. I would argue that it is a cruel act to remove someone’s physical need without attending to their even greater spiritual one. In doing so, you have brought them temporary comfort while letting them suffer eternally in hell. So let us serve the community both physically and spiritually, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Heavenly father, thank you for letting us be a part of your salvation plan. It is a blessing to see others come to know and love you. Give us a desire to serve others for Christ and the courage to preach the gospel even when it is difficult to do so. Amen.