“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” ( Hebrews 13:17 )
Did you know that one of the functions of our spiritual leaders is to persuade us with the truth? They are to teach and show us the truth from God’s word so that we will listen, yield to it and obey it.
The word used for obey in this passage of scripture is peithō. Which means to persuade or convince one to believe by the words spoken. This word occurs sixty-three times in the New Testament and many times it is translated as trusted, persuaded or convinced. Most of this occurs in the book of Acts when the people believed after they had been persuaded by the message spoken.
In the same way we are to trust and be convinced by the teaching and persuasion of our leaders. It is their job to teach the Word of God to us with authority and power, then we are to receive it, be convinced by it and yield to it. In this way, these truths become evident in our lives and in return bring joy to our leaders when they see change occur.
This is one of the main reasons we are to hold them in high regard, because they are commissioned to teach and persuade us by the Word of God. Which is why we are to look to them as examples; “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” ( Hebrews 13:7 ). And why we are to respect them; “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ).
By receiving the Word of God taught to us by our leaders and elders we are submitting to their authority and making their job a joy which is why we are reminded to obey in this. God has ordained leaders in the church to teach and help bring us into maturity as well as to give us an example to live by.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” ( Hebrews 13:15-16 )
I remember a time when at the beginning of our Sunday service the congregation members were invited to stand and share a testimony from the week. We took five minutes each Sunday to do this and it was always encouraging. Everyone always shared praise reports of what the Lord had been doing in their lives that week. When you see Him working in each and every detail and moment of life then it is impossible not to praise Him.
As this letter to the Hebrews winds down we are reminded to continually offer God sacrifices of praise. One of the offerings the Israelites brought to the Lord was the fellowship offering also known as the peace offering ( Leviticus 7:11-21 ). The fellowship offering was an expression of thankfulness, it came from a grateful heart. The person, would bring the offering to the Lord as a token of gratitude. Which is why the writer ties our praise back to this offering and reminds us that we are to continually offer this type of sacrifice. However, our offering comes in word form, from lips and hearts that praise and confess His name.
Isaiah prophesied, “Peace, peace, to him who is far off [both Jew and Gentile] and to him who is near! says the Lord; I create the fruit of his lips, and I will heal him [make his lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise]” ( Isaiah 57:19 Amp ). Isaiah foretold of this very idea; once you have been healed, restored and redeemed by Jesus, then the words you speak will be laced with thanksgiving and bless the Lord.
This type of praise offering comes naturally when we realize the wonderful things God has done for us. As in the example from our church service, we always had people willing to share and praise the Lord. It brought both encouragement and reminded others of what He had done for them as well. The result in return was that others were willing to go out, share and help others in need when the opportunity arose. Which in return also brought glory to God and pleased him.
Praising the Lord should be at the forefront of our hearts and minds. We should continually make an effort to praise Him being thankful for the ways in which He works. The way to bless the Lord is by praising Him.