I would like to quote Hebrews 13:7 & 17 which reads, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faithObey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (NASB) In these two verses the Spirit of God puts before us our “leaders.” Who are these men? I believe they refer, primarily, to the “elders” in the local church who seek the spiritual welfare of the saints.

In verse 7 we are told to “Remember those who led you.” As I write this I think of godly men who were used of the Lord to establish me and others in the faith. They were well-versed in Scripture and taught us the fundamental truths of Christianity, and when we needed a word of edification, exhortation, or comfort, they were faithful to present just the right scriptures to us. They are now in the glory but it is a joy to think back and to remember those “who spoke the word of God to you.” In addition to leading us by the Word, they also led us “by their example.” The truth that they taught us was manifested in their lives! Paul writes of this in 2 Corinthians 4:2 when he says that he “renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully: but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” What a privilege it is to have such examples to look back to, and then to “imitate their faith.

In verse 17 we told to “obey your leaders and submit to them.” Though I thank God for “past leaders,” I also praise Him for “present leaders” serving the Lord in local churches. We are told in this verse that “they watch over your souls as those who will give an account.” Scripture refers to them as “elders” or “overseers.” A most touching scene is put before us in Acts 20:17-38 where the apostle Paul met with the elders at Ephesus. He knew he would never see them again and he gave them this charge in verse 28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the flock of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Again, these are men who seek our spiritual welfare and the Holy Spirit has equipped them for this work. They are caring for Christ’s sheep as those who will answer to the Lord, and we should gladly “obeyand submit to them.” We are NOT following them blindly and submitting to human rules and traditions; we are submitting, as we have seen, to the Word they have spoken unto us and to their godly example. If we truly value these men, we will take to heart those words, “Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” If we do submit to them as we should, they will have “joy” instead of “grief” on that day when they do give an account before the Lord. They will be rewarded for their faithful service to us, and we too will reap the benefits of yielding to their godly instruction and imitating their faith. (157.3) (DO)