Readings for the Day
Isaiah 25-28, Hebrews 13
Verses for the Day
7 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 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
Thoughts for the Day
In the closing chapter of Hebrews, the writer (in chapter 13 sounds like it is the apostle Paul) concludes with some practical applications for the Christian life. He encourages them to show hospitality to strangers, love one another and keep the marriage bed pure, meaning no sexual immorality/adultery. In the two verses above, he tells them to remember and have confidence in their leaders. Though there doesn't seem to be a ton of structure and hierarchy in the church yet, there were obviously leaders. In this case they are described as those who spoke the word of God to you.
Importantly they are not just teaching the Word, but also living it out. They have an authentic walk with Cnrist that is observable by its positive outcome. He asks them to consider their lives and imitate their faith. Leaders not only lead, but must practice what they preach. Without spiritual integrity, they surrender their leadership.
He tells them not only to imitate their way of life, but also to submit to their authority. The authority given to a pastor to watch over the flock entrusted to them, comes from God. It is God's call to word and sacrament ministry to a particular group of people. When a congregation calls a pastor they trust he or she has been called by God, and submit to their leadership. And the pastor or leader is also accountable to God for the authority they have been given. So we see the value of leadership and authority, which is not human authority but God-given. So when a member submits to their pastor's authority they are submitting to God who ordained this person to shepherd God's flock.
Finally, the writer says to do this so your pastor's work will not be a burden. I have been privileged to be a pastor for 20 years, and have been blessed by so many people God has brought into my life as a result of this call. These people have made my work an extreme joy, which I am forever grateful for. Take a moment to pray for your pastor, his or her leadership and faithfulness to their call to your church. And finally, for protection for them for we know the evil one loves to cause pastors and leaders to fall. As the writer says this will be a benefit to both you and them and will advance God's kingdom here on earth.