Sentence Sermons - Hebrews 13:7|
Remember Those Who Led You
The next lesson in this series of “sentence sermons” is found in Hebrews 13:7 – “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” The ASV renders the former part of this verse as, “Remember them that had the rule over you, men that spake unto you the word of God.” By this description, we know that this refers to the elders of the church, for they are those men who both rule and teach God’s word in the church of God (1Tim. 5:17).
The position of elder that is considered here is the same as pastor or shepherd (Eph. 4:11) and overseer or bishop (1Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9). Notice in Acts 20 that Paul called to Miletus the elders of the church at Ephesus (v. 17), and he said to them in verse 28, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Therefore, it is obvious that there is no distinction among elders, pastors, and overseers – they are the same.
The admonition to the Hebrew Christians regarding their elders was to remember these men. It is right and needful for every Christian to be mindful of the elders of the local church for several reasons. One reason is given in this same chapter of Hebrews, where verse 17 says, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them…” It is necessary for the members of the Lord’s church to be attentive to their elders and follow their guidance, for the Lord has given them authority over the local church. To be inattentive and disobedient to faithful elders is to be disobedient to the Lord, for they teach the word of God to us.
Another reason for Christians to remember their elders is because of the tremendous burden of leadership that they carry. Again, notice Hebrews 13:17, where the writer says that elders “keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account.” These good men have taken on this burden voluntarily (1Pet. 5:2), and they carry the weight of worries and concerns for every soul in the congregation as shepherds over the Lord’s sheep. Christians should do their best to ease the burden of their elders and present a good account of themselves by being faithful and helping their brethren to do likewise. Again, Hebrews 13:17 says of overseers, “Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
A third reason to be mindful of the elders is given in the latter part of Hebrews 13:7, which is to consider their conduct as examples of faith to be imitated. Peter commanded the elders of the churches to make themselves “examples to the flock” (1Pet. 5:3). Therefore, it is the responsibility of members of the flock to notice the elders’ examples and follow in their steps. More specifically, the flock is to consider “the result of their conduct” or “the issue of their life” (ASV). This gives a Christian motivation to imitate his elders, for he sees the good results of such conduct. Notice Hebrews 6:12 – “…that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” By imitating the faith and patience of his elders, a Christian may have the same hope as his elders of inheriting the promises of God, i.e., salvation and eternal life.
Therefore, let us be mindful of our elders. A church that is overseen by strong, faithful elders is blessed beyond measure, and those men deserve our attention. They are our leaders, our teachers, and our examples. They are the shepherds of our souls, and they have accepted the responsibility to be accountable for us. We should submit to them, obey them, and be thankful for them. Indeed, “it is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (1Tim. 3:1).
Next Sentence Sermon: Hebrews 13:8 – The Unchangeable Jesus Christ
Stacey E. Durham
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