Epistle to the Hebrews (13:17)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Hebrews 13:17

We have seen in v7 a similar exhortation to value our spiritual leaders. Spiritual leadership has often been misunderstood and abused. A spiritual leader is first of all a servant of everyone.

He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35

Paul said: “God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you.” Col 1:25

The Greek word ‘serving’ used in Mark and Colossians is diakonos which can refer to someone who goes on errands, a waiter at table or  someone who does menial duties.

Elsewhere in the book of Philippians, Paul introduced himself as slave of Christ.

He said “This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.”

As an apostle of Christ, Paul had a God-given authority. He could have requested that the Corinthian church support him financially. He did not even make use of this right. He took honor in preaching freely the gospel.

What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.” 1 Cor 9

To be a qualified diakonos, Paul said that such a person should:

  • Be well respected and have integrity.
  • They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money.
  • They must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed and must live with a clear conscience.
  • Be tested and proved to be fit for that position
  • Their wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do.
  • A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well.

If such a godly person is in leadership position, it should not be difficult to follow him. I have met few of such leaders. Conversing with them just a few minutes always blessed me.

The author also mentioned about spiritual leaders who watch over our souls. They are often referred as bishops or overseers.

These are the qualifications of an overseer/elder/bishop:

  • Must be a man whose life is above reproach.
  • Must be faithful to his wife.
  • He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation.
  • He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.
  • He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent.
  • He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.
  • He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.
  • An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.
  • People outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.

All these qualifications are not earned at seminars or in books. These are the results of a dedicated life. Paul says that “If someone aspires to be an elder,he desires an honorable position.” It is an honorable position because it is a servant position.  If such a man cannot lead his own family, he will not be able to lead the church’s family. Look also at his way of managing his finances and you’ll know his motives and where his heart is. If all these qualifications are duly considered, I guess we would have fewer persons in leadership position today.  Such a leader does not present himself as the boss but as a servant and slave. He points souls to Christ’s authority and does not keep them under his control. Like John the Baptist, his desire is that Jesus becomes greater and him less.

Paul insisted on the word “must” when he wrote to Timothy. It was not an option. Taking care of the church’s family is no easy task. So our author wants the readers to give the leaders reasons to do it with joy and not with pain. These leaders are here to help Christians become more like their Savior.  They are not in this leadership position for money or glory. They assumed leadership position because of their love for their Savior. These leaders want Christ’s fragrance to be seen in these souls. They have probably left their countries, careers and comforts to become servants of Christ. They are accountable to God for our souls and we are accountable to God for our attitude towards them.

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Posted October 7, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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