I considered just finishing up Hebrews today, but I did want to look at some tidbits in this final chapter a little more closely.
Here in verse 3, as a part of showing brotherly kindness, the writer of Hebrews says,
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (3)
I think it’s pretty clear from the context that he’s saying to his readers not to forget their fellow Christians who were imprisoned or suffering for their faith.
Paul certainly suffered that kind of abandonment as we saw in II Timothy.
Perhaps there was fear of being associated with those in prison for their faith. Perhaps there was a feeling of helplessness at the situation and wanting to distance themselves emotionally as a result.
But the writer of Hebrews tells them, keep showing love. Don’t abandon them, in your heart or your actions.
That’s the context.
But as I read this passage, God spoke to me in another way. There are many people around us who are imprisoned in other ways. They’re in an emotional prison. Or they’re imprisoned by illness or circumstances. And it can be so easy to distance ourselves from such people, in part because we feel helpless, in part because it’s emotionally hard on us to deal with them.
But God says, “Remember them too. Don’t distance yourself from them emotionally. Visit them in the prison they are in, and do what you can to help. At the very least, be there for them and show them you care, even if you don’t know what to say.”
And then there are others in spiritual prison. Satan has locked them up, captives to their own sin. And God tells us, you were there once too. You remember what that was like. Satan once made your life miserable too. So remember them. Reach out to them with my love that they may be set free.
How about you? Do you remember those who are imprisoned around you? Do you show them the compassion of Christ?
Or do you just kind of distance yourself from them?
Remember the words of Jesus.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)