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PGA Chaplain Bible Studies

Weekly Bible Study - Study 53 Hebrews Chapter 13:7-9

 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.” (Hebrews Ch 13: verses 7 to 9)(New International Version)

Leading by example and being healthy!

Our reading this week introduces us to 2 ideas that are prominent in our world today; leadership and health. Every part of life requires some form of leadership whether it be at home, work, in sport or politics. People follow leaders and expect to be able to trust them.

This is no different to our faith. The leaders of the book of Hebrews were those who brought the message of Jesus to them. They had most likely died by now but their life was one of service, courage and sacrifice. The message of Jesus that they brought also was not a passing new fad, but of eternal significance. Times may change and technology may increase and knowledge of our world grows, but there is a never changing aspect of our faith that has to do with Jesus. It is Jesus who died and rose and ascended for us that we follow and believe in.

It would seem that members of the church were being encouraged to return to their Jewish roots particularly in regards to refraining from certain foods for becoming healthy and pure. Our writer reminds them that the new life Jesus gives has already made them pure and they have no need to return to the old Jewish days. Something better has come.

Today Islam and modern life have one thing in common and that is they focus on the external matters of food and body that are promoted as the way to healthy and pure living. Fasting for Muslims is a means of washing away their sins particularly at Ramadan. There is no end to ways of purifying your body on the TV from exercise to beauty products that make you look good.

For followers of Jesus while fasting and looking good may be of some benefit to the body it is the heart that matters for Jesus. No amount of going without food or exercise can purify your heart according to Jesus. Jesus also promotes more of a community way of life by emphasising our relationships with others rather than on personal purity and health. Rather than fasting or rigorous exercise it is grace, kindness and mercy that help promote a healthier world.  Even without any faith, I think we can see that a gracious person is preferred to a fit one.

As has been shown all through Hebrews Jesus has come to bring a new final way of life that is centred on him, is eternal, and is based on mercy and matters of the heart. We will be carried away into error if we think that fasting and healthy bodies will produce a way of life pleasing to God when it is the heart that matters.

Prayer. Gracious God, May I be forever faithful to Jesus and to work on my heart and my relationships to others and be gracious in all I do. Amen.  


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