Remember your leaders

Remember your leaders, 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. … 17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon. 20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:7-8, 17-21)

As we consider this text, we easily take note of the exhortation to remember our leaders. The focus of most of this lesson is to remember, obey and respect what our spiritual leaders have spoken and taught us. In context, these  leaders are pastors and teachers. Verse 7 says, “Consider the outcome of their way of life …” The Greek word means “to scan closely, to look back upon, to look back carefully on, etc. Or, as I would translate it, “examine closely.” This examining and imitating does not mean that we encourage our people to act exactly like our pastor or even Jesus. God has created each of us as unique individuals, so to copy another person with another personality is unrealistic. But God desires that we examine closely, reflect upon and try to emulate their purpose and way of living. Just as Jesus is changeless and faithful, so we are encouraged to follow the faithfulness of our spiritual leaders.

The author of Hebrews urges us not only to remember our leaders, but to obey them and submit to their authority. Although the Greek does not include the words “to their authority” as the NIV 1984 does, one can understand why the translators chose to insert them. They certainly convey the thought of submission. Submitting to God’s chosen spiritual authorities who faithfully proclaim and abide by God’s Word shows acceptance and reverence. In verse 17 the NIV translates “They keep watch over you” is literally in the Greek, “for they must keep watch over your (pl.) inmost being or physical life.” The importance of the work of these spiritual leaders is made clear by the author’s statement that they must render or give an account of how they cared for these precious souls.

The last two verses of this account contain a very wonderful blessing. This benediction provides a fitting conclusion to the letter. The verses that follow compare to a postscript we add to some of our letters. “God of peace” is a title for God frequently used in benedictions. The blood of the eternal covenant refers to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah talked about this new covenant in 31:31 and called it an eternal covenant in 32:40. This sacrifice fulfilled the blood of the old covenant displayed through the Passover Lamb. This blessing prays that Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, would equip God’s people with the tools to carry out his will and produce in us fruits of faith pleasing to God. Of course, God deserves the glory for all this forever and ever.

In the world today most people don’t show much respect for people in leadership. Maybe it is because so many leaders in the past have failed to demonstrate proper guidance. Americans are very critical of their government leaders, especially the president. Like the renegade views expressed in a common Pink Floyd song “Another Brick in the Wall,” they often rebel against teachers, principals and parents. God help us to show respect and devotion to our spiritual leaders who present the Word of God to us and exhibit a Christian lifestyle for us.


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